For many outsiders Vietnam remains an enigma. Popular tourist destinations such as Ha Long Bay and the cultural heritage town of Hoi An are world renowned. Businessmen see Vietnam as a booming economic tiger and an attractive destination for investment. For history enthusiasts, Vietnam has a fascinating mix of rich ancient culture and disparate political movements and struggles for independence from foreign aggressors.
But according to His Excellency Nguyễn Tất Thành, ambassador of Vietnam to Thailand, who sat down with Elite+ for an exclusive interview, there are many aspects of the unique and healthy relationship between the two countries that many Thais do not know.
“Vietnam and Thailand were the first ASEAN members to establish a strategic partnership, and cooperation between us has been broadened and consolidated through high-level visits, joint cabinet meetings and political consultations,” said Ambassador Thanh. “Thailand is one of only two countries, along with Lao PDR, that maintains joint cabinet retreat [JCR] meetings with Vietnam.” The JCR, inaugurated in 2004, is a form of closed-door meeting between two cabinets aimed at building closer and more comprehensive cooperation between the countries.
Better known as a senior economic and trade diplomat, Director-General Thành was posted to Thailand as ambassador nearly a year ago, following his previous term in New York as deputy permanent representative of Vietnam to the United Nations.
Those meeting Ambassador Thành for the first time might be struck by his youthful appearance. For the record, he is 50, young compared to the Thai stereotype of senior officials as ageing with grey hair. But Vietnam is known for giving more opportunities to younger members of the diplomatic and party corps. Two recently appointed deputy prime ministers are 50 and 54.