Vietnam wishes and is always ready to cooperate with France in all fields, for peace, stability and mutual benefit, President Tran Dai Quang has said.

In an interview with France’s AFP published on August 25, President Quang reiterated that bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries has been further developed and become one of five major pillars in the two countries’ Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in September 2013.

“It is necessary to build a common vision on defense cooperation between the two countries to make the bilateral partnership more diversified and effective,” the President told AFP.

The interview has been published just prior to an official visit to Vietnam by French President Francois Hollande from 5 to 7 September.

He will be accompanied by Mr. Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance, Mr. André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, and Ms. Martine Pinville, Minister of State for Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, according to the French Embassy in Hanoi.

Vietnam and France are expected to sign some 20 cooperation deals between Vietnamese and French companies and agencies during the visit. President Hollande will spend September 6 in Hanoi and meet President Quang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

President Quang recalled his meeting in June with France’s Minister of Defense Jean Yves Le Drian, who spoke about French interests in keeping peace and stability in air and on the sea in the Asia-Pacific region. The French Minister also spoke of the requirement to abide by international law when settling disputes peacefully. “I share similar views,” President Quang told AFP.

In an interview with VET on July 18, Ambassador of France to Vietnam H.E. Jean-Noel Poirier said that France cherishes and supports respect for international law, including UNCLOS 1982, 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,” he said in reference to the ongoing dispute in the East Sea between some ASEAN nations and China. “We hope the parties will soon establish a Code of Conduct, in line with the DOC adopted in 2002.”

Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and France was reported at $4.2 billion in 2015. The figure reached $1.91 billion for the first half of 2016, according to Vietnam Customs. Total FDI from France stands at $3.4 billion in 469 projects.

President Hollande will deliver an address at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi on September 6 on future cooperation between the two countries, according to the French Embassy.

He will then be in Ho Chi Minh City on September 7, where he will meet with the city’s Party Chief Dinh La Thang and Chairman of the People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong, and will also meet with Linkbynet, an IT service company, and French Tech Viet, a startup community with some 800 members.

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