Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong interviewed about President Truong Tan Sang's visit to US

The Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, Nguyen Quoc Cuong, has appealed for a new Vietnam-US partnership framework to be agreed during President Truong Tan Sang’s upcoming American visit from July 24-26. 
In a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency, the ambassador said: “Nearly one decade has passed since the two nations established the current framework of constructive, friendly partnership and multi-faceted cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual respect and benefit.” 
“I believe that in light of the strong existing relations we share and the potential to strengthen them further, it is time to form a new partnership framework for the two countries' relations.” 
The diplomat expressed his wish that Presidents Sang and Obama will discuss the content of such an agreement. 
He said Sang’s trip will be only the second official visit made by a Vietnamese head of State in nearly two decades since the normalising of ties with the US, and the first exchange of high-level delegations in five years. He remarked that the visit has come at a time when the two nations are diversifying their exchange channels in the drive for development. 
Cuong added that the visit is a product of Vietnam’s foreign policy of independence, self-control, multilateralisation and diversification of international relations, affirming the country as a friend and trustworthy partner in the international community. 
In addition to talks with US President Barack Obama, Sang will also work with Congress leaders and meet politicians, business figures, scholars, leaders of international organisations and Vietnamese expatriates in the US. 
During the meetings, Vietnamese and US leaders will discuss global and regional issues of mutual interest and plan the next stages in their co-operation, which is already built on a firm foundation, to make bilateral ties deeper and more stable, Cuong said. 
Over nearly past 20 years, the two nations have held high-level meetings on the fringes of international conferences. They have also worked closely and effectively at regional and global forums, especially the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+). 
Economically, the US has been the largest importer of Vietnamese goods since 2005 with a 100-fold increase in its imports within the last nearly two decades. Last year, 400,000 Americans visited Vietnam for business and tourism. 
Nearly 16,000 Vietnamese students are pursuing education in the US, doubling the figure of 2008 and more than any other Southeast Asian nation. It has the eighth highest number of US enrollments in the world. 
Referring to the aftermath of the American War, Cuong conceded that Vietnam suffered huge losses of life and property during the war. He said that with the existing resources, it will take another 100 years for the country to clear all unexploded bombs, mines and ordnance left from the war in cities and provinces nationwide. 
Despite this, Vietnam is still working unconditionally with the US to find missing soldiers as one of its humanitarian activities, Cuong said. 
By May 2013, Vietnam had helped the US identify 693 out of 1,983 missing servicemen and women. The US has also assisted Vietnam in locating, identifying and returning the remains of about 1,000 missing Vietnamese soldiers. 
According to the ambassador, Vietnam appreciates the growing cooperation and support that the US government, individuals and organisations are providing to offer social and medical assistance to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin. He expressed his hope that the US side will work harder on this humanitarian issue. 
As for democracy and human rights, he acceded that there remain differences in approach between the countries, yet it is important that the two sides stand ready to talk clearly and honestly to enhance mutual understanding and bridge the differences. 
In this spirit, “we are ready to discuss the topics of democracy, human rights and religious freedom during President Sang’s visit,” the diplomat said. 
“Only friendship and equal and mutually-beneficial cooperation, in line with the United Nations Charter and international law, and respect for each other’s political institution, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity are the best way to move Vietnam-US relations forward, achieving the common interests of the two peoples,” the ambassador stressed.-VNA