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Media Release

FA50 - 22 April 2005

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Vietnam

I have today announced the appointment of Bill Tweddell as Australia's Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  He will replace Joe Thwaites who has been Ambassador since June 2002.  Mr Tweddell is expected to take up his appointment in August 2005.

Australia has a long-standing, warm and diverse relationship with Vietnam.  In recent years, relations have broadened into new areas such as law enforcement, immigration and defence cooperation.  Vietnam is Australia's fourth-largest development partner and 19th largest trading partner, with two-way merchandise trade totalling A$3.12 billion in 2004.  Australia also values its cooperative and constructive relations with Vietnam in regional fora such as APEC and ASEAN, and welcomes Vietnam's progress towards accession to the WTO.

People-to-people links between our two countries are strong.  Some 200,000 Australians of Vietnamese origin make a significant and positive contribution to Australian society.  Between three and four thousand Vietnamese students study in Australia each year - more than in any other country - making education our biggest services export earner with Vietnam.

Mr Tweddell is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He is currently serving as Deputy High Commissioner in London, a position he has held since January 2002.  Mr Tweddell has extensive experience in Asia.  He was Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau (1999-2001) and High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives (1995-96).  He has also served overseas as First Secretary, Counsellor and then Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi (1986-1991), Second Secretary, Athens (1981-1983), and Third Secretary, Dhaka (1976-1978).

In Canberra, Mr Tweddell has held the positions of First Assistant Secretary, Public Affairs and Consular Division (1998-1999), Chief of Staff and Principal Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (1996-1998), Director, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Section (1992-1995), and Director, South Asia Section (1991-1992).

Mr Tweddell holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Economics degrees from James Cook University.  He is married with two children.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500 , DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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