"It is their Britain's business," minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said. "We have talked to them about the issue. The cutting of aid will not affect Vietnam."

Britain plans to continue to help Vietnam meet its Millennium Development Goals targets before stopping aid to the country in 2016, the British embassy said in a statement Wednesday, referring to UN goals to fight disease, eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality and achieve universal primary education by 2015.

"As Vietnam is now a vibrant, emerging economy - a tremendous achievement - we will end our bilateral development programme in Vietnam by 2016 to redirect our aid to poorer countries that will need it more," it said.

Britain has promised to fund projects in primary education, sanitisation and HIV/Aids prevention.

The announcement followed a statement Tuesday by Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell in London on the outcome of a bilateral trade review, which aimed to reorganise Britain's aid programme.

Britain is to cut aid to 16 countries in total, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Russia and Serbia.

The British government, through the Department of International Development, has provided more than 617 million dollars in grants to Vietnam since 1992.

Around 12 million people still live in poverty in Vietnam out of a total population of 86 million. The poverty rate among ethnic minorities stands at more than 50 percent.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - March 5, 2011