Plaudits are part and parcel of state visits. It is customary for the hosting and visiting heads of state to exchange pleasantries and compliments during official visits. The purpose of the exercise is, after all, to strengthen bilateral ties.
Israel's much traveled President Shimon Peres has frequently been flattered by presidents, prime ministers, royalty, and even a Pope or two, but seldom to the extent of the warm welcome that he was given by Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang, with whom he held a work meeting following a colorful full scale ceremonial reception with large military honor guard on his arrival in Hanoi.
Peres heads to Vietnam to boost ties
As they sat together in the Presidential Palace discussing strategic cooperation, President Sang declared his deep, personal admiration for Peres and for the state of Israel.
"This is an opportunity to open a new chapter in our relationship," said
Sang, who made it clear that Vietnam is eager to deepen cooperation
with Israel in the fields of technology, science, energy, security,
communications, infrastructure, medicine and agriculture. "We look on
Israel as a miracle," said Sang.
Sang thanked Peres for the hundreds of scholarships offered by Israel to
enable Vietnamese researchers to study and receive training in Israel.
Their accumulated knowledge, said Sang, had been translated into
benefits for Vietnam's economy and had improved the standards of
Vietnam's scientific research. Peres responded that Israel is willing to
significantly increase the number of
Vietnamese scientists who can come to Israel to further their studies.
Acknowledging the quality of Israel's professionalism and the advantages
that Israel has in scientific and technological innovation, Sang told
Peres: "I strongly believe that your visit will create a new platform
for strengthening the ties between us."
Sang spoke of Vietnam's flourishing economy and the trade markets that
it is developing, and urged Israeli companies and individuals to invest
in Vietnam and benefit from growth and the favorable terms enjoyed by
Peres, who was accompanied by a large business delegation of experts in
defense industries, communications, finance, high tech, water
technologies, and agriculture, spoke of Israel's great respect for
Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, who have endured harsh and difficult
wars but are now looking to the future with the aim of building a strong
and progressive society.
Noting Vietnam's fertile land and abundance of water, Peres said that
these two advantages, combined with Israeli technological know-how and
experience, can be the foundations for a new infrastructure of
cooperation and will enable increased food production for East Asia.
As he does in all his meetings with foreign dignitaries, especially
representatives of developing countries, Peres stressed that among the
greatest challenges of the era is the provision of food. Peres believes
that hunger is currently one of the worst scourges of the 21st century
and that everything possible must be done to remedy the situation. In
his view, the solution lies in science and technology because the world
cannot expand its territory.
Following the meeting, a financial protocol was signed between the two
countries whereby both governments: provide loan guarantees, preferred
interest rates, and fast procedures for companies involved in different
projects within the protocol; offer a credit line of up to $100 million
which can be increased by bilateral agreement; and facilitate the
transfer of technology from Israel to Vietnam on the basis of Export
Insurance for Israeli exporters.
According to the Israel Export Institute, Israeli exports to Vietnam
have tripled in recent years; at the beginning of 2011 exports reached
$250 million and imports from Vietnam at the end of 2010 reached $131.9