Vietnam, Israel Sign Memorandum to Establish Diplomatic Relations

Vietnam and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding this week to establish diplomatic relations.

The agreement was signed Monday in Jerusalem by Nguyen Dy Nien, Vietnam’s visiting deputy foreign minister, and his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Beilin. It was described here as a significant step for Israel in building up its relations with the Far East.

Beilin said the agreement represents “a new chapter in Israeli foreign policy.”

For the past year, the two countries have exchanged trade delegations and engaged in other low-level diplomatic activities. A few Israeli technical experts already work in Vietnam on a semi-official basis and Vietnamese students study in Israel.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Nguyen said his country is interested in Israeli expertise to help restore an economy destroyed by 30 years of war.

He also said Vietnam believes that friendship with Israel will help achieve reconciliation with the United States.

Beilin noted that Vietnam is a “very important country in Southeast Asia” with a population of 70 million and said Israel wants to play a part in the development of Southeast Asian countries.

Nguyen stressed Vietnam will continue to maintain its traditionally close relations with the Arab world, but does not think this will be affected by the new friendship with Israel.

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