The agreements overseen by Edouard Philippe and Nguyen Xuan Phuc came as the two countries seek ways to further boost trade and investment.

They include the purchase by Vietjet Air, Vietnam's leading private airline, of 50 Airbus A321neo planes worth $6.5 billion and CFM Leap engines worth $5.3 billion.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Phuc, Philippe urged closer trade ties.

"Vietnam needs a reliable partner and a stable economic environment, but we are in a time when only a few partners are reliable and some others abandon multilateralism as an organizer of our political and economic life," he said. "So we have a common interest in strengthening the reliability of our partnership and promoting economic stability for our countries."

Phuc said France, Vietnam's former colonial ruler, is now one of its top partners, and the two leaders discussed ways to boost strategic ties, particularly in trade and investment.

Earlier Friday, Philippe met with Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who was elected president last week, and National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

On Saturday, he is to visit the former battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, where the French army was defeated in 1954.

Philippe said he and his delegation, which includes some French veterans, will "pay respects to fallen French and Vietnamese soldiers who fought for their countries."

"Instead of bringing us back to the past, allow us, I think, to build a serene common future," he said.

The Associated Press - November 2, 2018