Communist Vietnam has openly called for expanded economic links with Israel in a further tilt away from Arab states. Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's call in a meeting with a delegation led by Israeli Producers' Association chairman Oded Tyrah Monday, March 26, was reported by all official media Tuesday.
Khai urged the Jewish state to assist Vietnam in its efforts to boost its IT industry and modernize its key agricultural sector. He also called for increased Israeli orders for Vietnam's main agricultural exports — rice, coffee and rubber.
Like most Eastern bloc countries, Vietnam pursued a strongly pro-Arab policy during the late 1970s and 1980s and imposed an economic boycott on the Jewish state.
The communist authorities discreetly eased the embargo during the 1990s and have since moved towards a more equivocal policy towards the Middle East conflict in a bid to woo greater Israeli investment for its impoverished economy.
Vietnam still recognizes Palestinian statehood and the Palestine Liberation Organization maintains an embassy here. Early last year Vietnam hosted Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a major international conference on the Middle East conflict. — (AFP, Hanoi)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)