Singaporean President wraps up visit to Vietnam

Ha Noi, Feb. 11 (VNA) -- Singapore's President S.R. Nathan and his wife and entourage left Ho Chi Minh City today, Feb. 11, concluding a five-day official friendship visit to Viet Nam.

The first high-tech agricultural zones to be built

Ha Noi, Feb. 11 (VNA) -- Two first-ever high-tech agricultural zones will be built in Viet Nam this year, says Deputy Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Nguyen Thien Luan.

The two zones would be located in Ba Vi district, northern Ha Tay province, and Hung Loc district, southern Dong Nai province. They would be completed within three years, Luan told Lao Dong newspaper and were expected to be followed by others.

Singapore's President left Ha Noi for Ho Chi Minh city

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- Singapore's President S.R. Nathan, who began an official friendship visit to Viet Nam on Feb. 7, left Ha Noi morning, Feb. 9, for Ho Chi Minh City.

The President, his wife and entourage were given a farewell party at the Presidential Palace and seen off by President Tran Duc Luong and his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien, Presidential Office Director Nguyen Canh Dinh, Ha Noi People's Committee Chairman Hoang Van Nghien and other senior officials.

Vietnam will build its own small satellites in the future

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- Viet Nam will build its own small satellites in the next five or ten years.

A pre-feasibility study for the design of small satellites, weighing between 100 and 200 kg, has been done jointly since 1999 by scientists of the British Surrey Space Research Centre and the Viet Nam National Centre for Natural Science and Technology.

Purpose of the USD 20-million venture is to build small satellites for the monitoring of the country's natural resources and environment as well as forecast natural calamities.

Culture and information plans to 2005

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- The Ministry of Culture and Information has made a plan to develop a traditional modern culture from now to 2005.

The sector plans to mobilise VND 5,000 billion (USD 357 million) from the State budget and between USD 2-3 million from non-refundable foreign aid and foreign direct investment.

Non-refundable foreign aid will be used to preserve historical sites, art and architectural works, art and ethnology museums, traditional craft villages, and train young musicians and dancers.

New oil and gas fields discovered

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- Viet Nam has discovered new oil and natural gas reverves off its southwestern coast through 16 exploration contracts jointly conducted by PetroVietnam and its foreign partners last year, says PetroVietnam Director General Nguyen Xuan Nham.

At Lot 15.1, an oil well called Su Tu Den (Black Lion) has been found with an estimated capacity of about 12,600 barrels a day, while five natural gas reserves have been discovered at the country's southwestern continential shelf, Nham disclosed.

Socio-development program for Central Highlands

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- A total of 54 communes with special difficulties in Central Highlands Gia Lai province have benefited from the Government's socio-economic development programme in mountainous and remote areas in 1999 and 2000.

The Government spent VND 31.2 billion (USD 2.22 million) on 37 rural transport; 24 irrigation; 27 water supply; and 16 electricity projects as well as 60 schools and healthcare centres.

The projects contributed to developing production and improving the living standards of minority people.

Measures to boost exports revenue to 19,2 billion USD

Ha Noi, Feb. 9 (VNA) -- Trade Minister Vu Khoan announced measures to boost export turnover to USD 19.2 billion this year at a meeting with the representatives of 29 northern-provinces import-export enterprises today, Feb. 9.

He said his ministry had prepared to draft plan to stabilise import-exports for 2001-2005 that would open a legal corridor for import-exports, shorten the list of prohibited commodities, lessen sectorial management and gradually remove domestic protection.

Vietnam Protestant Church adopted a landmark new charter

Feb. 9 (VNA) -- The General Council of the Viet Nam Protestant Church (VPC) adopted a landmark new charter in Feb. 9, after two days of sitting at a congress held in Ho Chi Minh City.

The new charter, which consists of 10 chapter and 79 articles, is based on the principle "Living the Gospel amidst the nation". It aims to provide church dignitaries and believers guidances about religious practice and social activities conforming to the nation's Constitution and laws.

Red Cross Association grants aid to disavantaged people

Ha Noi, Feb. 8 (VNA)-- The Viet Nam Red Cross (VNRC) has granted VND 100 million (roughly USD 7,000) to disadvantaged people in remote areas of the four central highlands provinces.

Gia Lai and Dac Lac provinces received VND 30 million each while Kon Tum and Lam Dong provinces, VND 20 million each, to help local ethnic minority people in reducing poverty.