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HANOI, July 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) welcome strengthening of Russia’s positions and role in the Asia Pacific region, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, who began his official visit to Russia on Thursday, said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass.
“Vietnam and its ASEAN partners hail closer cooperation between the ASEAN and Russia. Russia’s growing role and its stronger positions in the Asia Pacific region has a very great importance for the ASEAN and will facilitate more efficient cooperation,” he noted. “We attach great significance to the strengthening of Russia’s positions, its more active role as a weighty political player in the ASEAN mechanisms and forums, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum on security, the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting + 8 (ADMM+8), and the East Asia summits.”
The Vietnamese president said he saw a clear perspective for the development of relations between the ASEAN and the Russian Federation. “We remember October of 2010, when Hanoi hosted the second summit meeting of the ASEAN-Russia format, which became a milestone in promoting ties and which outlined a roadmap of cooperation between the Association and Russia,” he noted.
According to Truong Tan Sang, the ASEAN, with a population of about 600 million and gross GDP of two trillion U.S. dollars, is a very promising cooperation partner in many areas, primarily in the trade and economic sphere. “I hope that after the beginning of negotiations on a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan conditions will be created for signing a similar agreement between the ASEAN and the Russian Federation,” the Vietnamese leader stressed. The Association has such agreements with other big countries and life has shown that such agreements facilitated trade and investment flows in cooperation between the ASEAN and these countries.