Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday (Sept. 9) on a three-day official visit, invited by Vietnam’s foreign minister, Pham Binh Minh.
On Wednesday (Sept. 10), he met with the secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries are close. In April 2012, secretary general Trong visited Cuba, followed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in March 2013.
On the Cuban side, President Raúl Castro Ruz visited Vietnam in July 2012, followed by First Vice President Miguel Díaz Canel in June 2013. The two countries hold annual political consultations at the vice-ministerial level and maintain close cooperation in international organizations and multilateral forums.
Only last week, Cuba’s minister of Foreign Trade and Investments, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, met in Hanoi with Prime Minister Dung to advocate a mid-range program of cooperation and investment based on the new Cuban regulations on foreign investment.
He also conducted a seminar for Vietnamese industrial and commercial leaders on the benefits of investing in Cuba, now that the Mariel Development Zone has been inaugurated.
And he signed an agreement with Vietnam’s Minister of Construction, Le Quang Hung, on the furnishing of building materials and equipment. No details were immediately released.
Bilateral trade between Cuba and Vietnam amounts to more than 200 million dollars a year, according to the Vietnam News Agency. At present, both nations are preparing the 32nd session of the intergovernmental committee, set for next month in Havana.
Vietnam and Cuba have signed cooperation agreements on telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, construction materials and electronic products.
Vietnam furnishes Cuba with more than 200,000 tons of rice per year. In fact, the Cuban minister of Food Industries, María del Carmen Concepción, is in the delegation now visiting Vietnam. She met with Prime Minister Dung on Monday and, according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, received assurances that Vietnam will increase its sales of rice to Cuba and help Cuba improve its production of that cereal.
At a meeting with Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat, she was also given assurances of cooperation in seafood processing, fisheries, and other food production, such as coffee growing.
On the defense front, a military delegation from Cuba, headed by Gen. Roberto Rodríguez Dopico, head of logistics for the Western Army, visited Ho Chi Minh-Ville (the former Saigon) last month. At the time, he met with Gen. Do Ba Ty, chief of staff of the Vietnamese Army.
Last May, the two countries signed a military defense pact, under which they agreed to increase the frequency of visits at all levels, share information and cooperate in matters of defense industry.
Next year, the two countries will mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
[Photo atop of Bruno Rodriguez and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh – from Juventud Rebelde.]