Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh held talks with Secretary Kerry

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has affirmed that Vietnam treasures its ties with the US and suggested the two sides increase the exchange of delegations at all levels. 
During his talks with the US Secretary of State John Kerry in Hanoi on December 16, Deputy PM Minh applauded the US’s provision of 4.2 million USD to help Vietnam enhance its capacity in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. 
He proposed the US side continue granting Vietnam flexibility in the negotiations and technical assistance while helping the country increase necessary capacities in implementing the agreement. 
The Deputy PM also called on the US Government to open its doors to Vietnamese farm produce and limit the number of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits against Vietnam’s exports. 
He spoke highly of the two sides’ signing of a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation to surmount the consequences of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the war in Vietnam as well as the US’s environmental re-evaluation at Bien Hoa airport for the detoxification at the Agent Orange hotspot. 
Minh suggested the two sides step up their cooperation in science-technology, education and training, healthcare and humanitarian work to address post-war consequences, including the search for Vietnamese soldiers who went missing in action. 
Host and guest noted with pleasure the fruitful development in the two countries’ relationship over the past time, especially major advances made since the two countries established their comprehensive partnership last July. 
They also highlighted the two countries’ enhancement of exchanges between high-ranking delegations, the signing of an agreement on cooperation in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes (the so-called 123 Agreement), and practical progress in bilateral negotiations in the TPP talks, and the US’s lifting of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties imposed on Vietnamese shrimp between February 1, 2011 and January 31, 2012. 
They also compared notes on measures to continue implementing the comprehensive partnership in various areas in the time ahead. 
Kerry underscored the significance of the two countries’ establishment of a comprehensive partnership, affirming that the US places importance on the relations with Vietnam in its overall policy towards Asia-Pacific. 
He stated that the US wants to speed up cooperation with Vietnam in all fields, from politics-external relations, economics-trade and defence-security to healthcare, education, climate change and the handling of wartime consequences. 
The Secretary of State spoke highly of progress in the TPP negotiations and confirmed that the US will soon accomplish internal procedures to officially sign the 123 Agreement. 
He informed the Vietnamese side that the US will increase assistance to Vietnam in dealing with Agent Orange/dioxin issues and consequences of unexploded bombs and mines left over from the war, and reinforcing Mekong River water resource security. 
He also said he announced an aid package worth 17 million USD in the framework of the forest and delta programme for Vietnam to combat climate change. 
The two sides also discussed how to enhance their partnerships in the framework of regional and international forums. 
They affirmed support for unity in ASEAN and the bloc’s central role in regional cooperation mechanisms as well as in the evolving architecture in the Asia-Pacific region. 
Both sides emphasized they will continue to work together in maintaining peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea, ensuring maritime and aviation freedom, safety and security. 
They were unanimous that sovereignty disputes in the East Sea need to be addressed by peaceful means, on the grounds of international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and with the stringent implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), looking forward to formulating a Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) as soon as possible. 
Kerry took the occasion to thank Deputy PM and FM Minh for giving him such a warm welcome as well as good conditions to realise his trip to the southernmost province of Ca Mau and the Mekong River, where he has many memories. 
At their follow-up press conference, the two officials said they had frank, open, constructive and useful talks. 
On the Vietnam News Agency reporter’s question on the two countries’ economic prospects, Deputy PM and FM Minh said that economics and trade are given priority in the cooperation between Vietnam and the US and that at the talks, both sides agreed to work harder to bring economic, trade and investment ties on a par with the comprehensive partnership. 
Kerry, for his part, commented that the two countries’ trade, which has seen a 50-fold rise in value since 1995, will grow further when the TPP agreement is sealed.-VNA