Lt. Gen. Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defense, once made that statement in an interview exclusively given to the People’s Army Newspaper.

Defense Minister Phan Van Giang receives French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery (L).

In 1991, the Vietnam - France relations turned over a new leaf as France opened a defense attaché office in Vietnam. France was the first Western country to open such an office in the Southeast Asian country.

Over the past three decades, the two countries have strengthened their bilateral defense cooperation, which has become a pillar in the Vietnam - France strategic partnership.

In fact, Vietnam and France have a close relationship in history, culture, and society. Despite upheavals, the two countries’ relations have been consolidated and developed.

France is the first Western European country to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam right after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.

According to Daniel Schaeffer, a two-star general, advisor to the French Ministry of Armed Forces and the first French defense attaché to Vietnam, both Vietnam and France wished to normalize their diplomatic ties comprehensively. Therefore, they supported the establishment of defense attaché offices in each country.

The French general recalled that he visited Hanoi in May 1991 to make preparations for the opening of the office. On August 1, 1991, he, as a defense attaché, paid a courtesy call on the leader of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense and that day was proposed as the time to establish the bilateral defense cooperation.

Two-star General Daniel Schaeffer (Photo:

During his four-year tenure, the French defense attaché was greatly supported by Vietnamese senior officers and learned more about Vietnam’s ceremonials and the organizational system of the Vietnam People’s Army.

In 1993, Vietnam opened its first defense attaché office in France. Since then, the bilateral defense ties have developed comprehensively in all spheres.

Senior Colonel Pham Manh Thang, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defense and former Vietnamese defense attaché to France in the 2017-2020 tenure, said that he gave recommendations to higher levels to make orientation for the defense ties with France, acknowledge the two countries’  advantages and similarities to cooperate effectively, boost mutual understanding, and organize visits, including high-level visits by leaders of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense and French Ministry of Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang emphasized that the basis of the Vietnam - France strategic partnership is the Communist Party of Vietnam’s righteous political policy, foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization and diversification of relations, harmonization of national interests and common interests of the region and the world, Vietnam’s geo-strategic position and international prestige, as well as the country’s policy of peace, justice, respect and observance of international law in settling historical issues, and conflicts and disputes over sovereignty and territory.

Translated by Mai Huong