New York, 18 September 2002

Mr. President,

I wish, at the outset, to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I would like also to express my high appreciation to your predecessor, H.E. Dr Han Seung-Soo of the Republic of Korea for having efficiently presided over the deliberations of the 56th Session. Vietnam joins others in welcoming the Democratic Republic of East Timor and the Confederation of Switzerland to our family of nations.

Mr. President,

We come to this Session with the remembrance of the tragic incident of September 11th, 2001 when thousands of innocent lives were lost in the towering inferno caused by the terrorists. Our world has much changed since that day, as Secretary General Kofi Annan said in his statement before this august body last week to the effect that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were not an isolated event, that they were an extreme example of a global scourge, which required a broad, sustained and global response. By adopting Security Council's Resolution 1373 and General Assembly's resolution 56/1, by enacting and carrying out various measures in different fields at national as well as regional levels, the community of world countries has sent out a very clear and resolute message: we condemn in the most categorical terms terrorism under whatever forms against innocent people, and that we will take actions under the Charter of the United Nations because that must be the way for our fight to be sustained.

But fighting terrorism does not simply mean bringing to justice the perpetrators and conspirators, but as well tackling poverty, injustice, subjugation and illegal occupation that underlie it. That is to say while fighting against terrorism remains high on our agenda, the other issues, notably the resolution of regional conflicts and the implementation of important development goals set in the Millennium Declaration such as alleviating poverty, narrowing the rich-poor and the development gaps within and among nations, fighting against HIV/AIDS, drug, organized transnational crimes, protecting the environment... should not be downgraded and become any less urgent.

Mr. President,

Over the past year, besides efforts against terrorism, the United Nations took the lead in organizing a series of important international conferences, most notably the Monterey International Conference on Financing for Development, the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, the World Summit on Food Security and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development... where concrete measures had been adopted for the interest of each and every of our nations. The UN also continued with its important work on conflict prevention, peace-building in various parts of the world, including its preparation for East Timor's independence, conflict resolution in Africa and elsewhere. Mention should be made of its efforts relating to the Peace Accord between the Congo Democratic Republic and Rwanda. The United Nations and the Secretary General should be commended for these significant endeavors.

Mr. President,

With those achievements, however, the United Nations is expected to do more. Our Organization must enhance its efforts to help resolve protracted conflicts, especially those in the Middle East, by peaceful means and free from intervention and imposition. In this vein, we reiterate our full support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination and to living in an independent and sovereign state.

We welcome the dialogue between the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, the resumption of talks between the former with the United States, and sincerely hope they will bring about fruitful conclusions. We again join other speakers in voicing our concerns over the issue of Iraq, welcoming all efforts to defuse the tensions. The acceptance by Iraq for the return of the UN weapons inspectors without conditions gives us some hope that a military attack will be avoided.

In a world of inter-dependence, we consider it even more important to uphold the principles of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of states. In this regard, an early end must be put to those blockades and embargoes for decades that have been causing immeasurable sufferings to the people of Cuba, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. As arms races are re-escalating in many parts of the world, for four consecutive years the Conference on Disarmament has not been able to start its substantive work and we must find a way to break this deadlock.

Effective measures to limit and mitigate the negative impacts of globalization on developing countries need be formulated and implemented to ensure equal development opportunities for all nations. International commitments to raising and maintaining ODA at the level of 0.7 percent of GDP, on building an open, equitable multilateral trading system, on removing protectionism with a view to facilitating the access of goods from developing countries into the developed markets, on debt relief, on implementing numerous principles to protect the global environment, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities ...etc must be strengthened and put into action. To accomplish these goals, the United Nations and its affiliated agencies and organizations, especially financial institutions need to strengthen themselves through the on-going reform process. Vietnam continues to uphold the view that this process should primarily focus on enhancing the role of the General Assembly, making the Security Council more democratic, representative, transparent and accountable... with the expansion of its memberships in both non-permanent and permanent categories. In this connection, we wish to reaffirm our support for those candidates, such as India, Japan, Germany... that have the capabilities to make major contributions to the work of this important body.

Mr. President,

In Southeast Asia, the ASEAN countries are determined to strengthen their unity and cooperation in order to respond to the challenges arising within and outside the region. The implementation of the Hanoi Plan of Action, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Hanoi Declaration on Narrowing the Development Gap among ASEAN countries has achieved initial but encouraging results. ASEAN has continued to further deepen its relationship with its Dialogue Partners as well as other international institutions and organizations in the world with a view to contributing further to peace, stability and development. Apart from their strong commitments and enormous efforts devoted to the fight against terrorism, including the recent signing of the ASEAN-US Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, the ASEAN countries are working closely with China so that a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea would be adopted early. This is another positive development towards building' a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as agreed by the ASEAN leaders at the 6t' ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in December 1998, thereby contributing to the promotion of confidence building and the resolution of all disputes by peaceful means.

Mr. President,

Consistent with its foreign policies of independence, sovereignty, openness, multilateralization and diversification of its external relations, wishing to be a friend and reliable partner of all countries striving for independence, peace and cooperation, Vietnam has continued to develop and strengthen its friendship and multi-faceted cooperation with countries in and outside the region, and international organizations. Vietnam is expediting all necessary procedures in order to early join the World Trade Organization.

The free and democratic General Elections held last May and the successful conclusion of the First Session of the New National Assembly with highly-qualified representatives elected to the important positions of the State, National Assembly and Government for the 2002-2007 term constitute important events in the political life of our nation, creating a firm foundation for us to continue the renewal process aimed at building Vietnam into a "strong country with a prosperous people, and a just, democratic and civilized society". In striving for these goals, we hope to continue to enjoy the support and cooperation of all countries and organizations. On its part, Vietnam pledge to do its utmost to contribute to the work of the United Nations.

I thank you, Mr. President.