President Thein Sein is paying a two day official visit to Vietnam from March 20, at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang.

This is President Sein's first visit since he was elected in March 2011, as is the normal practice for an ASEAN leader after taking up office.

Vietnam and Myanmar established diplomatic ties on May 28, 1975 and their relationship has flourished ever since.

Last year senior government officials from both countries visited each other, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Myanmar in December, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai’s visit in June and the visit by the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces in November.

Bilateral cooperation in economics, trade and investment has grown steadily with two-way trade turnover reaching more than US$167 million in 2011, up 9.8 percent over 2010. In 2011 Vietnam exported $82.5 million of goods and commodities to the country and imported $84.8 million of products from Myanmar in 2011.

In the first two months of 2012, total export earnings between the two countries hit $28 million, a 59 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Both countries also held trade fairs in their respective countries.

Vietnam regularly meets with Myanmar to discuss regional and international issues and both have taken an active role in ASEAN. The two Asian nations also promote solidarity in ASEAN and the principles of consensus and non- interference in internal national affairs.

Vietnam-Myanmar relations have long been fostered by generations of leaders. President Thein Sein's upcoming visit is a fresh event to promote the celebration of the Vietnam-Myanmar Friendship Year.

Vietnam News Agency - March 19, 2012