New Ambassadors of Israel, Kuwait Pledged to Strengthen Ties with Vietnam

Ambassadors of Kuwait and Israel came to present their credentials to the Vietnam's president.

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President Nguyen Xuan Phuc received in Hanoi on August 10 Ambassador of Kuwait Yousef Ashour Al-sabbagh and Ambassador of Israel Yaron Mayer, who came to present their credentials, VNA reported.

New Ambassadors of Israel, Kuwait Pledged to Strengthen Ties with Vietnam
Ambassador Kuwait Yousef Ashour Al- Sabbagh presents his credentials to President Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Photo: VNA

At his meeting with Ambassador Al-sabbagh, President Phuc affirmed that Vietnam always attaches importance to and wishes to enhance the traditional friendship with Kuwait, one of the leading economic partners of Vietnam in the Middle East.

Mentioning trade between the two countries, which was valued at about USD 4.8 billion last year, up 48% year-on-year, the President suggested Kuwait facilitate the penetration of Vietnamese goods, especially agricultural products, seafood, garments-textiles, wood products and components, into Kuwait and other Gulf countries.

Economic relations between Vietnam and Kuwait have grown constantly over the years. Two-way trade between Vietnam and Kuwait surpassed USD 3.2 billion in 2020 and hit over USD 3.25 billion in the first nine months of 2021.

Vietnam has registered a significant trade deficit with Kuwait as it only generated over USD 60 million from the export of mainly mobile phones, electronics, aquatic products, wood and timber products and farm produce to the Middle Eastern country last year.

Its import from Kuwait totaled more than USD 4.7 billion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 49%, a majority of which was crude oil to be used as input for Nghi Son Oil Refinery.

Kuwait has a population of about 4.3 million and its per capita GDP hits some USD 52,000. It exports around USD 60 billion worth of commodities, mostly crude oil, and imports about USD 30 billion annually.

Phuc also called on the Kuwait side to coordinate with Vietnamese partners and enterprises in trade promotion, and to seek suitable solutions for the Nghi Son Oil Refinery.

Lauding the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development that has provided preferential loans for mountainous and disadvantaged provinces of Vietnam over the past nearly four decades, the leader urged the fund to speed up the preparation and signing of loan agreements for projects.

He also suggested Kuwait pay attention to protecting legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese labourers, saying the two sides should sign an agreement on labour cooperation to create a legal corridor for the bilateral collaboration in this regard soon.

New Ambassadors of Israel, Kuwait Pledged to Strengthen Ties with Vietnam
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Ambassador of Kuwait Yousef Ashour Al- Sabbagh. Photo: VNA

In reply, Al-sabbagh emphasised that Kuwait backs Vietnam at international forums and organisations, saying Kuwait supported the Southeast Asian nation’s non-permanent membership at the UN Security Council for 2020-2021, granted scholarships to Vietnamese students, assisted Vietnam in socio-economic development, especially rural and disadvantaged areas, and created conditions for Vietnamese citizens to return home safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ambassador pledged to make every effort to strengthen the bilateral ties in different spheres.

New Ambassadors of Israel, Kuwait Pledged to Strengthen Ties with Vietnam
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Ambassador of Israel Yaron Mayer. Photo: VNA

Meeting with Ambassador Mayer, the President affirmed the importance Vietnam attaches to cooperation with Israel, particularly in economy, science-technology, innovative startup, labor and tourism, adding that many Vietnamese research and startup delegations visited Israel to learn from the country’s experience.

He suggested Vietnam and Israel soon resume the exchange of delegations and cooperation mechanisms, especially the third meeting of the joint-governmental committee.

The two countries should intensify their coordination and mutual support at international forums and organizations, and organize many practical activities marking the 30th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties (1993-2023), he said.

Trade between Vietnam and Israel reached USD 2 billion in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 20%, the leader said, urging the ambassador to make active contributions in order to raise the bilateral trade revenue to USD 10 billion.

Phuc also suggested the two countries step up trade, investment, and tourism promotion activities in-person as the pandemic has been initially brought under control while accelerating the negotiations and signing of a bilateral free trade agreement and another on labor cooperation.

Collaboration in other fields like science-technology, personnel training and national defense should also be enhanced, he continued.

For his part, the ambassador noted that education would be an effective bridge between the people of the two countries as thousands of Vietnamese students are studying in Israel.

He said stronger tourism cooperation will facilitate the traveling of Israeli people to Vietnam and vice versa. The diplomat promised to try his best to foster cooperation between Vietnam and Israel.

New Ambassadors of Israel, Kuwait Pledged to Strengthen Ties with Vietnam
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Ambassador of Israel Yaron Mayer. Photo: VNA

Before coming to Vietnam, Ambassador Mayer served as the Director of Southeast Asia Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Jerusalem, Israel. Prior to that, he served as Ambassador of Israel to Nepal and Myanmar, from 2014 to 2017 and from 2008 to 2012 respectively.

Ambassador Mayer begun his diplomatic career as First Secretary at the Embassy of Israel in Hungary, Budapest from 1995 to 1999, after which he was appointed as Desk Officer at the Central Europe and Eurasia Division of the MFA. While in that post, he represented Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as coordinator during the millennium visit of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II to the holy land in 2000. That visit was marked by the open air Holy Mass held at the site of the Mount of Beatitudes attended by over 100,000 people from all over the world.

From 2001 to 2005, Ambassador Mayer served as Spokesperson and later as Counselor at the Embassy of Israel in India, New Delhi.

Ambassador Mayer shares his first message:

“I am honored and delighted to present today my credentials to the president of Vietnam, His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, to begin my term as Ambassador of Israel to Vietnam. I look forward to carrying forward the flourishing relations between our two countries. With the support of our partners in various fields in Vietnam, I aspire to forge greater cooperation in the fields of trade, agriculture, education, technology, innovations, to name a few, for the benefit of the people of Vietnam and Israel.

I wish to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to my predecessor, Ambassador Nadav Eshcar, for his excellent efforts in bringing Israel and Vietnam closer together.

Shalom.”

Ambassador Mayer holds a BA Honors degree in Political Science from Haifa University, Israel, where he also worked as a teaching assistant before joining the cadet course for foreign service.

Born on 9 September 1959, Ambassador Mayer served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1978 to 1982, completing with the rank of sergeant-major.

Born and raised in an agricultural and industrial community called Kibbutz En Hashofet, he worked in various agriculture and industrial sector from a young age. He also served as the Director of Ulpan, a Hebrew language program for new immigrants from 1987 to 1989.

He and his family are members of Kibbutz En Hashofet which is situated in the Megido region of Israel.

Hannah Nguyen