Former PM Suga says Japan to strengthen economic ties with Vietnam

Former Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has visited Vietnam and said Tokyo plans to further strengthen economic relations with the country by reinvigorating Japan's official development assistance.

Suga -- a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party -- and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc met in Hanoi on Monday.

At the start of the meeting, Phuc praised Suga's achievements as prime minister.

Suga also visited the country in October 2020. He said he received a warm welcome then and that he was happy to return.

Phuc expressed hope to take the two countries' partnership to a higher level as they mark the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations this year.

After the meeting, Suga told reporters that he had received an official invitation to visit Vietnam. He said Japan aims to boost bilateral relations in a wide range of areas including economics, human resources and national security.

Suga's visit came 15 months after he stepped down as prime minister. His political activities are likely to attract attention within the party amid low approval ratings for Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.