(New York, 26 September 2003)


Mr. President,

On behalf of the Delegation of Vietnam, I wish to warmly congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of the 58"' Session of the General Assembly. I believe that, under your able guidance, this Session will arrive at fruitful conclusions. I take this opportunity also to express our high appreciation of the significant contributions made by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan to the last General Assembly.

Mr. President,

Earlier last month, we were all shocked and shared in the boundless grievance over the tragic demise of our dear Sergio Vieira de Mello, High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq and his colleagues in the barbarous bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. We will not be discouraged by this loss, but instead should sustain even further the efforts by the United Nations to help the Iraqi people to restore stability and reconstruct their country.

Mr. President,

We are living in a world full of events with profound implications on the various aspects of the international life. They include the war in Iraq, the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, the SARS outbreak, increased violence in the Middle East, as well as continuing terrorist attacks in various parts of the world. Coupled with poverty, diseases, floods, droughts and conflicts, they continue to take many innocent lives. This breaks our hearts and should not be condoned, especially when mankind has entered the Third Millennium of human civilization. We must make full use of the great achievements recorded in science and technology, as well as in economy and trade, uphold the values of civilization, and serve the common development and prosperity of all nations.

Strengthening international peace and security, and enhancing development remain our primary task. Only in an environment of peace and stability can nations concentrate their energy to meet the challenges of development and to achieve poverty eradication. A healthy, equitable international relations can only be built on the principles of the UN Charter and international law, especially those of respect for national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and non interference in the internal affairs of states.

Development cooperation, international economic and trade relations can only be built on the equal footing and mutual benefit, and on favorable assistance and facilitation to the developing countries. However, there remain certain egoist tendencies contrary to this end. Protectionist measures, including non-trade forms in the name of anti-dumping, have been imposed to prevent developing countries' products from entering developed countries' markets. This runs counter not only to WTO agreements, but also to normal trade practices.

Typical case has been the recent unfair lawsuit against the sale of Vietnam's catfish on the US market; the same stories occur to the cotton-grower in Burkina Faso and the indigenous cultivator of medicinal herbs in Brazil... It serves as a further lesson that developing countries would always be the most disadvantaged in the current international trade, as recently observed by the Secretary General himself. By the same token, the failure to reach an agreement at the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun is really regrettable. Efforts
must therefore be enhanced to restructure the world trade and financial system to be more democratic and open, where developing countries could have a better chance.

Mr. President,

Despite the considerable efforts by the United Nations to achieve the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration, it is still a long way towards meeting the common needs and expectations. Today, global problems have been ever more related to human security and survival. The SARS outbreak gives us an example of how devastating it could be, not to mention the spreading AIDS.

We must be resolute to solve the global problems, especially those related to development, poverty eradication and disease prevention. Priority should be given to building cooperative frameworks based on reliable partnership, mutual respect, shared responsibility and serious undertaking of commitments. Practical and effective measures must be taken to pursue the UN Millennium goals and commitments made at the various International Conferences. In this regard, we welcome the efforts of the Secretary General to roadmap the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. We also call upon developed countries to better fulfill the commitment of allocating 0.7% GNP to ODA.

Multilateralism is crucial for the solution of the global issues. The United Nations, as the universal organization, continues to play an important role in the field of peace, development and in building healthy international relations. To meet the confidence and expectations of nations, it must do so more effectively and practically. This will require a stronger and more democratized United Nations and Security Council, which ensures a better representation of the developing countries and those able to have positive contributions to the common objectives. I wish to reaffirm Vietnam's support for Japan, Germany, India and other capable members from various continents to be among the future permanent members of the reformed Security Council.

Mr. President,

Following the event of 11 September, the world has made great efforts to combat terrorism. The message is very clear: terrorism must be condemned and eliminated from human civilization. As this common fight can be long and arduous, we need to cooperate on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter, along with an endeavor to solve the problems of poverty, injustice, oppression, etc., which give rise to terrorism.

Vietnam supports international efforts for disarmament and for the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the basis of respect for sovereignty and legitimate interests of the parties concerned. We call for an end to the embargoes and sanctions imposed against other countries, especially the unilateral embargo against Cuba that has for many decades caused untold sufferings to this people.

Peace, security and reconstruction are now most urgent tasks in Iraq. Vietnam reaffirms its support for Iraq's independence and sovereignty. We wish that stability could soon be restored and a government of the Iraqi people's choice be established early so as to enable them to focus on their national reconstruction and development in line with their selfdetermination. The United Nations should continue its worthy, active role in resolving the Iraqi issue and in reconstructing this country. In this regard, Vietnam has decided to contribute humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.

Vietnam reaffirms its consistent support for the just cause and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. We call upon the parties concerned to exert constraint, persevere in negotiations and speed up on the road to a just and durable peace in the Middle East that takes due account of the legitimate interests of the parties concerned. Any unilateral acts can only worsen the already volatile situation in the region.

Vietnam supports the peaceful efforts towards denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. We wish that the negotiations initiated by the 6-party talks in Beijing last August will lead to a satisfactory conclusion, for the sake of peace, stability and development on the peninsula, as well as in the region and in the world.

Mr. President,

In our region, in face of complex and rapid developments and challenges in international and regional landscape, ASEAN has come up with new initiatives and concrete steps to strengthen its solidarity, resilience and equitable development while further intensifying its relations with friends and partners abroad.

At the forthcoming ASEAN Summit to be held in Bali, Indonesia early next month, ASEAN will double its efforts to realize the ASEAN Vision 2020, Hanoi Plan of Action and the Hanoi Declaration on Narrowing down the Development Gap in ASEAN.

As an outward looking association, ASEAN continues to attach great importance to developing its relations with other countries, both at length and in depth. China, Russia and India will access to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, thus making the TAC the code of conduct in inter-state relations. Having adopted the Declaration of Conduct of Parties
in the South China Sea (DOC), ASEAN and China are embarking on seeking concrete ways to implement the DOC, thus contributing to confidence and cooperation in that important part of the world. In the economic field, ASEAN has also been discussing with dialogue partners, US, EU, Russia and India, just to name a few, on closer economic partnership, including possible

Mr. President,

Vietnam consistently pursues the foreign policy of `national independence, selfreliance, openness, diversification and multi-lateralization of international relations, and being a friend and reliable partner in the international community'. Along this line, Vietnam has increasingly enhanced friendly and cooperative relations with other countries as well as with regional and international organizations. At present, we are actively preparing for Vietnam's early admission to the WTO. With the annual economic growth rate of around 7%, with its favorable and secured investment environment, hospitable people, beautiful landscapes and other rewarding discoveries, Vietnam continues to be a most attractive country for investors and tourists. Later this year we will host the Southeast Asian Games, the biggest sports event in the region. The next will be the ASEM Summit in 2004 and the APEC Summit in 2006. We are confident that we will live up to the expectations.

Mr. President,

Today's challenges, old and new, are going global. They require measures of a more global and multilateral nature. The United Nations plays therefore an important role in coordinating international efforts to effectively respond to the challenges and to work for peace and development. In this regard, the principles of the UN Charter must be upheld, and their actual observance be ensured.

For its part, Vietnam as a responsible member state and reliable partner will continue to contribute actively to that common endeavor.

I thank you for your kind attention./.