VNA - On April 28, Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh delivered a speech themed “Viet Nam and the US in the 21st century: A new beginning” while attending the Viet Nam War Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.
Reviewing the missing opportunities for a sound relationship, the Vietnamese diplomat said nearly 230 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the US’s Declaration of Independence, tried to bring a rice variety in Viet Nam to grow in Virginia. In 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh sent letters to his US counterpart Harry Truman, asking for a “comprehensive cooperation” to be established between the two countries.
However, the Ambasssador said, the countries experienced a painful war with terrible consequences. In Viet Nam, about 3 million people were killed while four million others became disabled. Some 4.8 million people were exposed to Agent Orange/Dioxin, and hundreds of thousands have been unaccounted for. While US ex-President Bill Clinton described the Viet Nam War as “haunting and painful”, Secretary of State John Kerry said that war was the result of the “most profound failure of diplomatic insight and political vision”.
A new era has begun, the Ambassador said, quoting Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as saying during his historic visit to the US in July 2015 that the two countries had overcome the war pains and developed their relationship strongly and actively. Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh said the countries’ top leaders affirmed the principle of respecting each other’s political institution, independence and sovereignty, which will build up trust for their partnership to move forward to the next level. Bilateral trade has rocketed by 90 times over two decades, from 500 million USD in 1994 to 45 billion USD in 2015. The figure is expected to increase after the member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership finished ratifying the deal, which also involves Viet Nam and the US. The two sides have also made strides in security – defence cooperation with the signing of the Joint Vision Statement in 2015 and the implementation of the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding in maritime security, search and rescue, disaster response and peace-keeping. Particularly, they have prioritised the joint settlement of war consequences, such as unexploded ordnance clearance, detoxification, and health care for people exposed to AO/Dioxin, the diplomat added. He praised the success and contributions by the Vietnamese community in the US to each country as well as bilateral ties. Currently, Viet Nam is the ASEAN nation with the biggest number of students (19,000) in the US. More than 500,000 US tourists came to the Southeast Asian country last year.
In his speech, the Ambassador also asked the US to recognise Viet Nam’s market economy status and fully lift the ban on weapon sales to his country, which will be a favourable background for the upcoming visit to Vietnam by President Barack Obama.
The Viet Nam War Summit from April 26 – 28 is to shed light on the war, its lessons and legacy. It was attended by some 5,000 people, including politicians, war veterans, researchers, and representatives of anti-war organisations and movements. US State Secretary John Kerry also gave a keynote address at the event.