State Visit to Vietnam
President Higgins' programme began in Hanoi, with meetings with the country’s political leaders including Vietnam's President Quang. The two Presidents discussed their countries’ cooperation in number of areas, including education and human resources, agriculture cooperation and development matters. Ireland has a number of cooperation agreements with Vietnam and on this visit a further agreement was signed in the area of co-operation in higher education. Commercial agreements were also concluded in the renewable energy, medical technology and communications sectors.
Vietnam has been one of Irish Aid’s key partner countries since 2007 and Ireland has a strong reputation for influencing policy and designing programmes to address poverty in Vietnam. President Higgins visited several Irish Aid-supported projects, including the Mine Action Visitor Centre run by Project RENEW, which explains the efforts of government authorities, local residents and international organisations, including Irish Aid, to address the problem of unexploded ordnance since the Vietnam War ended.
The President also visited Vinh O commune, where livelihood support, training of local leaders and community members and construction of basic community infrastructure (such as rural road connections, commune centre, school rooms, clinic etc.) has been supported through the Vietnamese Government’s Programme 135, a poverty reduction programme targeting poor and marginalised communities to which Irish Aid has provided longstanding support. A successful output of work under Programme 135 was a decision by the Government of Vietnam to address the issue of early marriage. Ireland supported the Gender Department of the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs to disseminate the new measure in rural areas.
President Higgins also travelled to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s biggest city, where he met with members of the growing Irish community, including Irish businesspeople and entrepreneurs.