Delegates at the event 

The annual SDD is a multilateral dialogue mechanism to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern, contributing to building trust, and aiming at establishing a multilateral security cooperation mechanism in the region. Vietnam has sent delegations to attend every SDD since its launch in 2012.

About 250 leading defense officials and policy-makers from 38 countries attended this two-day dialogue, themed “Visions for Security Cooperation in the Age of Uncertainty.” Within the framework of the dialogue, there are four plenary sessions: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Nuclear Missiles Threats and security on the Korean peninsula; measures to build maritime confidence; cyber security challenges and national defense cooperation; new types of terror and global cooperation on fighting terrorism. Additionally, the SDD consists of special sessions, focusing on the 4th industrial revolution and defense technology and science; and future warfare characteristics and defense policies.

The RoK’s President Moon Jae-in’s video clip to the dialogue, the welcoming remarks of the country’s Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, and the opening remarks of the host’s Minister of Defense Song Young-moo all mentioned security challenges in the region, which require countries to increase efforts to cooperate to ease the existing challenges and effectively handle emerging security ones.

The keynote speaker of this SDD, Australian Minister of Defense Marise Payne, stressed in her speech the significance of maintaining a world order based on the rule of law, to avoid conflict potentials, and bring about prosperity to millions of people in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian minister held that competition could lead to cooperation if it is healthy, and this approach is the same regardless of the countries in question were U.S, China, Vietnam or Australia. All countries can benefit from an order based on the rule of law.

Mentioning regional instability in the context of globalism, Minister Payne said that there have been too many actions running counter to international law, such as covert land reclamation, establishment of new structures, and militarization in disputed areas in the East Sea (South China Sea).

The Australian minister also discussed bilateral defense cooperation in the region. She said that Australia agreed to open English language courses to assist Vietnam to deploy its forces to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan. She announced that in her recent visit to Vietnam she offered that the Royal Australian Air Force would help transport Vietnamese peacekeeping forces to South Sudan.

Earlier, the RoK-ASEAN Defense Vice Ministerial Talks, themed “the RoK-ASEAN Defense Talks – For a New East Asia of Peace and Security,” took place in Seoul on September 6.

Addressing the event, the RoK’s Deputy-Minister of Defense Suh Choo-suk, said that after 50 years of development, ASEAN has played a key role in the large-scale integration of the region, contributing to nurturing and formulating a habit of dialogue and cooperation among countries. ASEAN initiated a variety of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as ASEAN+3 (APT), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) etc. By the end of 2015, the ASEAN became a Community with a population of 640 million, which has been striving to realize the goal of reaching a total GDP of USD 2.5 trillion by 2025.

Deputy-Minister Suh Choo-suk said that today the ASEAN is the RoK’s second largest investor and trade partner. The two sides set the target to obtain two-way trade value of USD 200 billion by 2020, promoting the RoK-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, and increasing cooperation in fields of strengths such as micro, small, and medium enterprises, smart cities… He stressed that future cooperation between the RoK and the ASEAN should follow three key issues of ensuring sustainable prosperity, promoting people-oriented two-way exchange, and maintaining East Asia in peace and security.

Meanwhile, General Nguyen Chi Vinh hailed the host for organizing the first-ever RoK-ASEAN Vice Ministerial Defense Talks and held that the establishment of the talks would offer another important dialogue channel for the two sides to promote practical and efficient cooperation. He suggested that the two sides should prepare the content and agenda carefully at their level before submitting to the ministerial level for approval. He affirmed that Vietnam supports the host’s initiative and will actively cooperate to make the initiative a success.

On the sideline of the SDD, General Vinh met with Canadian Deputy-Minister of Defense Jody Thomas. The Vietnamese general said that the bilateral relations have gained positive developments, including the defense ties between the two countries. He reiterated that Vietnam always consider Canada an Asia-Pacific country and treasures the relations with the country. However, in his opinion, the defense cooperation between the two countries is still humble. He suggested that in the coming time the Canadian side would promote its cooperation with its Vietnamese partner such as supporting  Vietnam to join the UN Peacekeeping Operations and English or French language-training.

The Vietnamese general also invited the Canadian side to send its officials to study Vietnamese language and military arts at the Vietnamese National Defense Academy.

He also hoped the Canadian Coast Guard would send its ships to visit Vietnam and join search and rescue exercises with their Vietnamese counterpart. Moreover, he offered the Canadian side to cooperate with its Vietnamese partner in air force, cyber security, and settling consequences of explosives and toxic chemicals left behind from the wars.

Relating to multilateral cooperation, the Vietnamese general stressed that on the basis of the ASEAN consensus, Vietnam is willing to cooperate with Canada within the ADMM+ mechanism.

On behalf of the leaders of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense, General Vinh invited leaders of the Canadian Ministry of Defense to visit Vietnam at their convenience.

In her turn, Ms Thomas pledged that Canada would continue to contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and to actively cooperat with the Vietnamese partner on coast guard, counter-terrorism, humanitarian relief, to name a few.

Translated by Nam Long