Prime Minister Phan Van Khai visits Finland

VNA Sept. 23 -- Prime Minister Phan Van Khai arrived in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, at 9:15 am (local time) today (Sept. 23), starting the second leg of his tour of four Scandinavian countries after a three-day visit to Sweden from Sept. 20.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister paid a courtesy visit to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaati, to whom he spoke highly of Finland's role and position in Europe and the world. PM Khai also praised the Finnish President's effective contributions to strengthening peace, friendship and cooperation among nations.

He thanked the people and government of Finland for their constant support for Viet Nam over the past more than 30 years, adding that Finland-sponsored projects such as the Pha Rung shipyard, the water supply systems for Ha Noi and Hai Phong city have contributed greatly to Viet Nam's socio-economic development.

PM Khai expressed his wish for stronger and wider long-term cooperation between Viet Nam and Finland, especially in the fields that Finland is strong in like water supply, transport and communications, forestry, rural development, and hunger elimination and poverty reduction.

Welcoming the Finland visit by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and his wife, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari recalled his memory of a generation of Finnish young people's movement to support Viet Nam in its struggle against foreign aggressors 30 years ago.

The Finnish President shared PM Khai's view that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries have been constantly consolidated and developed since their establishment of diplomatic ties on Dec.28, 1972. He said he believed that the said ties would be further strengthened in the interest of both countries.

The same morning, PM Khai met with Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, Ms Riitta Uosukeinen. The two sides agreed that the bilateral friendly and cooperative ties, particularly in economy and trade, would be further pushed up. They also expressed hope for effective cooperation between the two legislatures.

The same day, PM Khai and his entourage had working session with Finnish Minister of International Cooperation and Development Satu Hassi. The two sides discussed assistance and cooperation for development between the two countries.

Asserting Finland is one of good partners of Viet Nam, PM Khai said that Finland-funded projects in Viet Nam gained high effectiveness and contributed to the country's socio-economic development. Worthy of note were the Pha Rung shipyard in the northern port city of Hai Phong and a programme of rural development in Hai Lang district, the central province of Quang Tri. The PM praised Finland's aid development policy, stressing that it would be continued to boost the cooperative ties between the two countries.

PM Khai witnessed the signing of two agreements on Finnish aid. The first, worth Finmark 23.4 million (USD 4.5 million), is a rural development programme in Viet Nam's central province of Thua Thien-Hue, and the second a Finmark 15.5 million (USD 2.5 million) cooperative programme in forestry between the two countries. Signatories were Finnish Minister Satu Hassi and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Do Ngoc Trinh.

Also the same day, PM Khai and Finnish PM Paavo Lipponen held talks.

Khai and his entourage were later feted by Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Riitta Uosukeinen and PM Paavo Lipponen.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai was in Vaasa City, Rovaniemi City and Lapland province on Sept. 25 and 26 to see economic achievements in the northern mountainous region of Finland during his tour of the country from Sept. 23-27.

Lapland, 800 km off Helsinki, as reported by its governor to PM Khai, has a just 200,000 strong population and occupies as much as one third of the country's natural land and one-tenth of the national forestland, but makes up 36 percent of the national hydro-power production output. Lapland, the governor said, has developed into a multi-industrial and service locality from a province largely lying on agricultural production.

PM Khai, his wife and entourage were shown around some economic and cultural establishments in Lapland and joined in some traditional cultural activities with the locals.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem and other delegates called at the provincial economic and employment promotion centre, where they exchanged experience with the management board.

The delegation visited the ABB and Wartisila groups headquartered in Vaasa city. These two groups have invested in Viet Nam in the production and marketing of electric generators such as power transmissions and diesel engines.--VNA