A 10-member U.S. Congressional Staff Delegation visited Vietnam from April 7 to 15 2012. Delegation members are chiefs-of-staff or senior legislative, professional and trade staffers from both the Senate and the House of Representative.
The delegation visited Ho Chi minh City, Da Nang, Hanoi and the two provinces of Dac Lac and Dien Bien. The delegation met with officials at the central, provincial and municipal levels and discussed a broad range of key issues in bilateral relations and of mutual interest. In Hanoi, staffers met with Vice Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Public Security and Trade and Industry, discussing foreign policies, economics, trade, foreign investment, energy, environment, education, TPP negotiation, counter-crimes and regional security including maritime security in the East Sea (South China Sea). The Staffdel was also briefed by Vice Chairman of National Assembly's Foreign Committee about reform in legislature-making process in the Vietnamese National Asembly. In Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, the staffers got first-hand experience of rapid development in these cities.
During the trip, the Staffdel met with Governmental Committee on Religious Affairs and visisted the Buddhist Academy, a Catholic church and Protestant parishes in Buon Ma Thuot (Dac Lac) and Muong Nhe (Dien Bien) which enabled them to witness and have a better understanding of religeous situation and religious freedom in Vietnam. They also visited Dioxin/Agent Orange decontamination project at Da Nang Airport, witnessing the process to clean up the soil and difficulties to solve the war consequences. At the same time, as part of the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA), staffers also visited historical and cultural sites in Vietnam.
After a week-long trip, the US Congressional staffers were appreciative of an informative trip that has enabled them to have a better understanding of Vietnam's situation and policy as said in a letter to the Embassy " the memories and information learned about the government, the people and the culture of Vietnam will last a lifetime".