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 Currency Vietnamese dong

National Day  2 September 

His Excellency Mr Nguyen Hoang Long
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
12-14 Victoria Road
London W8 5RD
T: 020 7937 1912
F:020 7565 3853

Vietnam’s Ambassador His Excellency Nguyen Hoang Long says his arrival in the capital has coincided with “Vietnam and the UK enjoying the best moment in their relationship ever!” He explains that “after establishing a Strategic Partnership in 2010, we renewed this partnership in 2020. Our diplomacy is focused not only bilaterally, but also in international fora.” The Ambassador arrived with his family in June last year, and they were delighted to welcome a new baby boy last autumn, an auspicious start to his posting. He’s pleased to return to the capital, where he spent some time as a student. “I love the city and the whole country, for so many reasons: its beautiful landscape, plus interesting historic places mixed with a cosmopolitan city and community. It’s been great to meet new friends in London and re-meet some old friends.” The Ambassador is keen to highlight his “wonderful” credentials presentation at Buckingham Palace. “I had a good conversation with The Queen. She asked many questions, about my family, my priorities, and targets for the UK-Vietnam relationship. I offered my best wishes for a successful Platinum Jubilee.”

The Ambassador’s career should be no great surprise, given that his father was one of Vietnam’s senior diplomats. “Following a very international upbringing, I had the opportunity to follow him into diplomacy.  So diplomatic life is very much the norm.”

After joining Vietnam’s foreign ministry in 1999, he was soon posted to Vietnam’s Embassy in Rome due to his proficiency in Italian. “I was a very young diplomat overseas at that time,” and returned to capital four years later in 2003 to join the Europe Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as a desk officer. He steadily climbed the career ladder, eventually in charge of the UK-Vietnam relationship, and was promoted to Deputy Director General for Europe. By 2012 at age of 36, Ambassador Long was appointed Vietnam’s Ambassador to Italy, also accredited to San Marino, Malta, Cyprus, and various international organisations. He recalls a particularly memorable time following Pope Benedict’s resignation. “I witnessed the experience of voting and the election of the new Pope. Then as Ambassador in Rome, I was invited to meet the new Pope Francis, which was astonishing.” With a sizable Catholic community in Vietnam, he notes, “we hold the Holy See as an important partner of the Vietnamese government (despite not having formal diplomatic relations), and have regular dialogue, particularly with regards to the nomination of the Archbishop and Cardinal in Vietnam.”

In 2015, Ambassador Long returned to Vietnam as Deputy Director General at the Department for Foreign Affairs for Provinces, becoming Director General the following year. The role essentially involved “developing cooperation between Vietnam’s provinces and the international world, in education, culture and particularly trade and investment.” He explains the job provided valuable experience “to create [his] action plan: to develop economic ties between regional areas of the UK with particular provinces in Vietnam.” Ambassador Long hopes this will also capitalise on the UK’s new Global Britain approach, particularly its Indo Pacific tilt. The Ambassador and his team at the Embassy will work on “five key pillars do develop the bilateral relationship: economic trade and investment; political diplomacy; security and defence (including joint activities and approach to tackle illegal immigration); education and training; and people-to-people links.”

Last November, COP26 provided an opportunity to showcase Vietnam’s successful cooperation in a multilateral forum. “Vietnam was praised by COP26 President Alok Sharma as a country leading by example, where we committed to top commitments of: Net Zero by 2050; reducing emissions by 30 per cent by 2030; phasing out coal in 2040s and the initiative promoted by the UK government on deforestation and land use. Vietnam’s actions really impressed COP26. Our commitments were important.”

Following the restrictions of the pandemic, the Ambassador is glad that things are opening back up in the UK, and people are meeting face-to-face again. “This has been very helpful to get things done as a diplomat. Of course, we still need to be careful.” He continues: “Back in Vietnam, as of 6 January 2022, we have made good vaccination progress: more than 98 per cent of the adult population have had the first dose and 92.6 per cent have had the second dose. Vietnam now is among the six countries with the highest vaccination rate. In terms of travel, we are considering reopening borders to international travellers shortly.”

Ambassador Long is absolutely concise about Vietnam’s greatest diplomatic challenge: “To maintain peace, stability and development in the South East Asia region, particularly with regards to the developing situation in the South China Sea. We need to maintain peace and stability for our own growth and welfare. So that is a big challenge for us.”

Going forward, the Ambassador is keen to pursue his greatest hobby of travelling. “I’d like to visit as many parts of the beautiful UK as possible. The pandemic hasn’t helped, but I hope this will change in 2022. I also like to play golf, particularly with diplomatic colleagues!”

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