After more than 30 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, Vietnam will open an embassy in Tel Aviv in the coming weeks.

Ynet has learned that Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovich was informed of the plan while visiting the southeastern Asian country several days ago.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which unites the northern and southern parts of the country, has existed in its current form since 1976, and is still controlled by the Communist Party.

Out of the country's 85 million residents, some 85% are Buddhist, 8% are Christian and the rest are members of other religions.

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi has seen economic growth in recent years, mostly based on the high-tech industry with expanding professional knowledge and cheap manpower. The food, textile and tourism industries are also developing.

Despite the huge economic potential, the volume of trade between Israel and Vietnam stands at only $200 million a year. The possibility of expanding the commercial ties and economic cooperation between the two countries was discussed during Abramovich's visit to Hanoi last weekend.

'Cautious approach'

Veteran Ambassador Efi Ben Matityahu, who will be concluding his four-year term in Hanoi next summer, has worked greatly for the establishment of a Vietnamese embassy in Israel.

Until now, however, due to what has been defined as "a cautious approach" by the Vietnamese authorities, the relations were only expressed by an Israeli embassy in Hanoi, which was opened in the mid 1990s.

During his visit, Abramovich met with his Vietnamese counterpart, as well as the chairperson of the local parliament's foreign affairs committee and senior committee members.

Abramovich later visited Tokyo and Bangkok, where he attended a conference of Israeli ambassadors in eastern Asia and announced Vietnam's plan to open an embassy in Tel Aviv after being wooed by Israel for nearly a decade.

By Roni Sofer - - November 24, 2008