French President François Hollande will pay an official visit to Vietnam in early September.

In an interview with VET, French Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Jean-Noel Poirier, confirmed that President Hollande will be visiting Vietnam but did not give an actual date. Diplomatic sources VET contacted believe it will be from September 4 to 6.

“The trip will be an opportunity to demonstrate the deep and extensive relationship that still unites France and Vietnam,” Ambassador Poirier said. “It will also be a special time to discuss regional and bilateral issues and to explore new cooperation perspectives on a cultural, political and economic basis.”

France wishes to be more involved in Vietnam from an economic perspective and support its enterprises in the country. “It also provides important aid for development,” he said. “For example, it is financing half of the total investment in Line 3 of Hanoi’s urban railway program.”

The visit will be an opportunity for the two sides to discuss changes in the regional context over recent years. “New challenges have arisen regarding security and defense and also climate change,” the Ambassador said. “France wants to deepen its strategic partnership with Vietnam regarding such matters and develop new forms of joint action.”

Several contracts and commercial agreements will be signed during the visit. “A presidential visit is a good opportunity for the two countries to strengthen and promote their bilateral relations, both politically and economically,” Ambassador Poirier said. “From an economic perspective it provides the grounds for signing deals or agreements in various sectors like climate change or urban development.”

During the interview he also explained France’s stance on the East Sea issue, following the recent ruling from Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague on the case between the Philippines and China.

“We will pay close attention to the verdict,” he said. “France does not take sides in territorial disputes concerning the East Sea. But we hope this outcome will contribute to a peaceful resolution of disputes.”

He reiterated that France cherishes and supports the respect of international law, such as the UNCLOS, in particular regarding the freedom of navigation and overflight. The procedures for settling disputes under UNCLOS contribute to maintaining an international order based on the rule of law. “We hope the parties will soon establish a Code of Conduct, in line with the DOC adopted in 2002,” he said.

Two-way trade turnover in June reached $337 million, including $238 million in export and $99 million in import, according to Vietnam Customs. The first half figure was $1.91 billion. Total foreign direct investment (FDI) from France stands at $3.4 billion in 469 projects.

Former French President François Mitterrand visited Vietnam in 1993, as did President Jacques Chirac in 1997.