"The two countries will accelerate cooperation in economy, trade, investment, culture and tourism and particularly in education," Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet told a joint news conference after the talks.

Couchepin, who arrived in Hanoi on Sunday for a three-day visit, said the two countries will promote cooperation in science and education, including exchanges of professors between their universities.

Couchepin is to witness the signing of cooperation agreements on Tuesday between Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic University and Lausanne University, and between Hanoi University and Geneva University.

Bilateral trade has surged from $780 million in 2006 to $1.25 billion in 2007 and $1.84 billion in the first half of this year, according to government figures.

Switzerland also has more than 50 investment projects in Vietnam with a total investment capital of $720 million.

Couchepin said Vietnam, with a young population, has much to offer investors from Switzerland.

He was scheduled to meet later Monday with Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong.

The Associated Press - August 4, 2008