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301 words - August 7, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' official visit to Indonesia including ASEAN Secretariat in the capital city Jakarta, and Vietnam, "underscored France's desire to give new momentum to relations between France and Southeast Asia," said an official statement. Mr. Fabius' visit to those two countries was the first by a French Foreign Minister since the mid-1990s, the statement added.
As Indonesia represents 40 percent of ASEAN's GDP – bilateral trade achieved USD 3 bn in 2011 and 2012 – and confirmed its status of fast-growing regional power, "France-Indonesia relations (became) priority" said Mr. Fabius during a press conference with Indonesian counterpart, Marty M. Natalegawa. The signing of a bilateral Strategic Partnership during a visit by former French Prime Minister François Fillon in 2011 apparently "brought a significant improvement in bilateral relations." The two officials agreed to increase cooperation, notably within multilateral institutions like the UN, and voiced their optimism to "achieve the trade value target of USD 5 billion in 2015."
In Vietnam, Mr. Fabius and his counterpart Pham Binh Minh "have agreed upon the content and a roadmap to lift up the relations between Vietnam and France to strategic partnership during their talks in Hanoi," said an official statement issued by the Vietnamese government. Mr. Fabius "underscored the quality of (the bilateral) political relations," and Mr. Minh welcomed France's "support for the settlement of disputes in the East Sea through peaceful means in compliance with international law." The two officials identified room for stronger commercial ties and expressed their willingness to enhancing Vietnam's and France's relations with the EU and with ASEAN respectively.
Recent developments in France's foreign policy, like the recent visit of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to South Korea (ROK), indicated France finally realized the importance of strengthening her "crucial presence" in Southeast Asia.
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