The Oval Office

10:50 A.M. EDT - JUNE 22, 2007

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you for coming. Laura and I remember very fondly our trip to your beautiful country. And I remember so very well the warm reception that we received from your government and the people of Vietnam.

I explained to the President we want to have good relations with Vietnam. And we've got good economic relations. We signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. And I was impressed by the growing Vietnamese economy.

 I also made it very clear that in order for relations to grow deeper that it's important for our friends to have a strong commitment to human rights and freedom and democracy. I explained my strong belief that societies are enriched when people are allowed to express themselves freely or worship freely.

I thanked the President for his continued cooperation on the issue of POWs and MIAs. I saw firsthand that cooperation when I was in Vietnam. We are now extending our search to missing remains in some of the coastal regions of Vietnam.

And I also told the President that Congress recently passed appropriations measures to help with dioxin, or Agent Orange. It has helped the people of his country. And, as well, we're firmly committed to helping Vietnam in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

And so, we welcome you, Mr. President. And thank you for the frank and candid discussion.

PRESIDENT TRIET: (As translated.) Upon the kind invitation extended to me by President Bush, I have decided to make this official visit to the United States. And I would like to thank Mr. President for your warm and kind hospitality. And also, to you, I would like to extend my thanks to the American people for their warm hospitality.

Over the last couple of days, I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet with a large number of American people and American businesses. And everywhere I went and anywhere I met, I always -- I was always extended good hospitality and cooperation.

It's very impressive that yesterday I had a chance to visit a farmer who raised grapes. And the life is very happy, and they have a warmth of feelings toward Vietnam. And the owner had to hug me several times, hesitating to say good-bye to us. And that demonstrates the desire for friendship between our two peoples.

And President Bush and I have had productive and constructive discussions. And both sides agree that our bilateral relationship has continued to develop. Especially since Mr. President's last visit to Vietnam, our relations have witnessed a new, fine development. On the economic front, our cooperation has been intensified. In addition to that, our cooperation has also intensified in other areas such as humanitarian cooperation, science, technology, education and training.

And I sincerely thank the U.S. government and people for your aid to HIV patients. And we highly appreciate the Congress appropriations for dioxin and Agent Orange victims. And I believe that the increased and good relationship between our two country [sic] would benefit not only our two countries, but also constitute a constructive factor for safeguarding peace and stability in our region.

And we have also discussed on specific measures of how to advance further our relations in a wide range of areas, be it political, economic, trade, investment, education, or training, humanitarian, et cetera. And in short, our relations are broadened, deepened on a sustainable and effective -- in a sustainable and effective manner. And as Mr. President has mentioned, both sides have just signed a Trade Investment Framework Agreement, TIFA, and many other high-value economic agreements and contracts.

Mr. President and I also had direct and open exchange of views on a matter that we may different [sic], especially on matters related to religion and human rights. And our approach is that we would increase our dialogue in order to have a better understanding of each other. And we are also determined not to let those differences afflict our overall, larger interest.

And I also would like to take this opportunity to send a message to American people, particularly the good feelings from Vietnamese people to American people. I would like to tell you that Vietnam nowadays is a stable, peaceful and friendly country. And Vietnamese people want to have a good consolidarity and friendship with American people. And so if both peoples both want peace, friendship and solidarity, then we should join hands and march toward the future.

And on this occasion, I also would like to extend my warmest greetings to my fellowman living in the United States. And Vietnamese Americans are part and parcel of the Vietnamese nation. And it is my desire to see them succeed, and hope they will continue to serve as a bridge of friendship between our two countries.

And so, once again, I would like to thank Mr. President and the U.S. government and American people for your warm hospitality.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.

END 11:04 A.M. EDT



Washington Post June 21 (page A19)  WP_CTN.jpg

Dear American friends,

Despite the geographical distance between our two countries, Vietnam and the United States go back together almost to the birth of America. Thomas Jefferson in 1787 tried to obtain rice seed from Vietnam for his Virginia farm, and the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence opens with Jefferson's immortal words, "All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

The relationship between the two countries has seen vicissitudes and a sorrowful past. Today, in both the immediate and long-term interests of our two countries, Vietnam and the United States are working hard to forge a new chapter in our shared history. For Vietnam, the United States will always be a key partner, and our commitment to multi-faceted cooperation should not be questioned.

After so many years, unprecedented opportunities are unfolding now for our two countries to build a more sustainable and fruitful relationship. Our bilateral ties reflect our common interests and concerns: commerce, culture, science and technology, education, regional peace and stability, the fight against terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian assistance to combat HIV/AIDS, avian influenza, and the lingering wounds of war. I hope and do believe that my visit to your country at this time will bring further momentum to the growth and diversification of the ties that connect us.

Vietnam has emerged today as one of the most dynamic and rapidly-growing economies in the world. Our material living standards and the vitality of our cultural and spiritual life have developed dramatically in recent years. Today Vietnam is known around the world as a safe and stable country -- with an attractive business and investment environment -- driven by a youthful and friendly population who are exceedingly optimistic about the future. The people and leaders of Vietnam are striving hard for a strong and prosperous country. Vietnam is showing itself more and more to be a responsive and reliable partner in the international community, willing and able to work effectively with all countries of the world towards peace, stability and prosperity. And I know that a stable and prosperous Vietnam is also the wish of the American government and people.

I, like all Vietnamese, am very impressed by the dynamism, creativity, and openness of the American people. On behalf of my country and the Vietnamese people I extend our warmest greetings and best wishes to the American people and to our fellow Vietnamese in the United States. May the friendship and cooperation between our two nations be ever-growing.


Nguyen Minh Triet



Washington Post June 19.



“We warmly welcome The Honorable President Nguyen Minh Triet of Vietnam on his historic first visit to the United States.

This trip is an important landmark for the deepening U.S.-Vietnam relationship. Ties between our two nations are strong. U.S. exports to Vietnam have grown by more than 300% since the signing of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2000. Last year, Vietnam became a full partner in the community of trading nations by joining the World Trade Organization. We welcome the economic reforms that Vietnam has undertaken, which have made it one of the world’s fastest growing economies and most
promising markets. Based on our experience working in Vietnam, we are confi dent the country will continue on its path towards reform, openness and prosperity for its people.

We wish President Triet a successful visit.”



US President George W. Bush hailed the Vietnamese economy’s remarkable momentum at a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet on Friday.triet_bush236.jpg

Speaking to the press after their talks, Bush welcomed the signing of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Thursday.

He said bilateral ties would grow further if the differences between the two sides over religious and human rights could be resolved.

Congress had recently passed appropriation measures to help Vietnamese victims of the Agent Orange, he said.

He fondly recalled his visit to Vietnam last November for the APEC summit, where he and his wife had been welcomed with warmth and hospitality.

Triet said he was convinced that the relationship between the two countries was growing in an effective and sustainable manner.

Vietnam would step up dialogue with the US for better mutual understanding about religious and human rights issues, but it was determined not to let those differences affect the larger bilateral interests, he said.

The Vietnamese diaspora in the US was part and parcel of the Vietnamese nation, and they would hopefully continue to serve as a bridge of friendship between the two countries, he said.

The Vietnamese were keen to be friends with the American people, he said.

“We should join hands and march towards the future.”

Earlier, on Thursday Triet met with the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the US house.

He addressed a ceremony at the Reagan trade center marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN.

US$5-billion deals inked

Besides TIFA Triet also witnessed Friday the signing of six investment and cooperation deals between Vietnamese and US businesses worth around US$5 billion.

These include a contract between software giant Microsoft and Vietnam’s Ministry of Post and Telematics, the country’s largest IT firm FPT Corp, Vietnam’s leading computer and communications corporation CMC, and Agribank.

Other major deals included one between Electricity of Vietnam and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and the US’s Chevron Group, Vietnam Posts and Telematics Group and Motorola, and the SSA Marine and Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines).

Vietnam has highest regard for human rights: President tells CNN
Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet

Vietnam has suffered severe human rights violations during the war years and holds human rights in very high regard that others might not fully understand, President Nguyen Minh Triet has said. Vietnam has suffered severe human rights violations during the war years and holds human rights in very high regard that others might not fully understand, President Nguyen Minh Triet has said.

In an interview with the CNN during his landmark official visit to the United States between June 18 and 23, President Triet asserted that Vietnam has not committed any human rights violations and have imprisoned people only for violations of the law.The interview, on the Late Edition by Wolf Blitzer, was aired on June 24. President Triet’s responses were relayed through a translator.

Transcript of the interview:

BLITZER: Mr. President, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome to the United States.

Let's start with your meetings with President Bush. Were you satisfied with the conversation you had with the U.S. president?

PRESIDENT TRIET: I was very satisfied with the conversation, with the meeting with President Bush. We have exchanged views on many issues that are very useful to both sides, and in the spirit of mutual understanding.

BLITZER: What's the most important part of the relationship between your country and the United States right now?

PRESIDENT TRIET: The most important part in our relations right now is to further develop our friendship and cooperation.

BLITZER: There seems to be, though, one impediment, one major problem, and that's the US charge that you are abusing the human rights of your own people in Vietnam. President Bush said he raised that issue with you today. How did that part of the conversation go?

PRESIDENT TRIET: We did have a direct and open exchange of views on this matter. I think that the United States and Vietnam have different histories, have different legal systems, and that's why it's natural that we have different perceptions on different things.

BLITZER: Did the president of the United States raise specific cases with you, individuals, names of people the United States feels are -- their human rights are being violated in Vietnam?

PRESIDENT TRIET: We have agreed that this is a matter that we would exchange views between us, not to divulge to the outside.

BLITZER: I ask that specific question, because the president at the June 5th conference on democracy and security, a conference that he had in Prague, he did mention one specific name, Father Nguyen Van Ly of Vietnam, someone that he said -- he included within a group of others around the world whose human rights were being violated.

PRESIDENT TRIET: Reverend Nguyen Van Ly was brought to court because of violations of the law. It absolutely is not a matter of religion.

BLITZER: I'm going to show you a picture that was seen around the world, and it caused a lot of concern, especially here in the United States. You're probably familiar with this picture.

PRESIDENT TRIET: Yes, I do know this picture. During the trial, Reverend Ly also uttered violent and bad words at his trial. And that is why you have seen on the picture what happened.

I can assure you that to cover somebody's mouth like that is not good. It would take a good measure in order to take care of this matter. And this is a mistake made by the staff right there. It's not government policy to do such a thing.

BLITZER: I want to move on to some other subjects, but one final question on the dissidents, the human rights part. On the eve of your visit here, you released two prisoners, two political prisoners, as they are described. There are at least another half a dozen, if not more, who are being held. Do you think others will be released anytime soon, including Father Nguyen Van Ly?

PRESIDENT TRIET: Those violators of the law, they were put away because of their violations.

And whether they are released depends on the attitude and the perceptions of what wrong they have done.

I would like to tell you that Vietnam has experienced long years of war, and during that period, Vietnamese people did not enjoy full human rights. Many of us were arrested, were put into prison, tortured, without recourse to the court. We conducted the liberation war in order to regain our human rights.

And therefore, more than anybody else, we love human rights, and we respect them. Perhaps you cannot truly understand or sense how much high regard we hold for human rights.

BLITZER: I don't know if you're aware that, outside of the White House, when you were there with the president, there were some demonstrations, Vietnamese-Americans who are concerned.

I wonder if you have any message to the Vietnamese-American community who remain very fiercely proud of their Vietnamese heritage.

PRESIDENT TRIET: Our message is that the Vietnamese living abroad, in general, and in the United States in particular, are part and parcel of the Vietnamese nation. The blood they have is the blood of the Vietnamese. The flesh they have is the flesh of the Vietnamese.

The government of Vietnam wants to see them succeed in the United States, and we also would like to see them to serve as a bridge between the United States and Vietnam. As for our differences in views and opinion, we should exchange dialogues in order to solve those differences. We invite them to come back to visit Vietnam in order to see with their own eyes our changes, our improvements.

BLITZER: Let me ask you a question, Mr. President, about the Americans unaccounted for still in Southeast Asia. According to the Defense Department, the US Defense Department, 483 American troops are still unaccounted for in what was called North Vietnam; another 882 in South Vietnam, about 1,365.

I know this issue came up with the president at your meeting at the White House, and he thanked you for your help. But I wonder if you had any new information to provide on missing American troops in Vietnam.

PRESIDENT TRIET: In past years, Vietnam has actively cooperated with the United States on MIA-related issues. We do that out of humanitarian consideration. And Vietnam will continue to cooperate with the United States in solving these matters.

BLITZER: But you have no new information about specific cases, no more remains that you found recently, any other information on missing in action, POWs, anything like that?

PRESIDENT TRIET: I don't have specific data on this matter.

BLITZER: But as the president of Vietnam, can you assure the American people that your government is doing everything possible to find out what happened to these American troops?

PRESIDENT TRIET: Absolutely, 100 percent. The government of Vietnam has and is and will be in full cooperation to do its utmost in order to help the United States to account for MIAs. We do this and we do what -- everything possible in order to account for American MIAs, while we still have a host of our own MIAs.

BLITZER: There is another issue that came up at your meeting with the president, President Bush, and that involves the very sensitive matter of Agent Orange. US Congress recently appropriated funds to deal with the fallout from this very deadly toxin that was used during the war. Are you satisfied with what the United States is doing now to deal with the remnants of Agent Orange in Vietnam?

PRESIDENT TRIET: I'm grateful for the efforts made by President Bush and the Congress with regard to support for Agent Orange and dioxin victims. And at the meeting, I also expressed my thanks to President Bush. But there are many Agent Orange afflicted victims, and their lives are difficult, and the afflicted environments must be restored.

Does your government right now have a better relationship with the United States government, or the government of China?

"Vietnam has experienced long years of war, and during that period, Vietnamese people did not enjoy full human rights. Many of us were arrested, were put into prison, tortured, without recourse to the court. We conducted the liberation war in order to regain our human rights.

And therefore, more than anybody else, we love human rights, and we respect them. Perhaps you cannot truly understand or sense how much high regard we hold for human rights." President Triet on CNN Late Edition

PRESIDENT TRIET: The foreign policy of Vietnam is based on independence and self-control. And Vietnam wants to be friends with all countries, wants to be a reliable partner of other countries.

China is a neighboring country with traditional relations with Vietnam. Both China and Vietnam would like to enhance our cooperation for development. Cooperative relations between Vietnam and China would not adversely affect our relations with other countries, and we also would like to seek an increase in our friendship and cooperation with the United States.

BLITZER: So you want to have good relations with the United States and China. I hear a very diplomatic answer.

PRESIDENT TRIET: No, it's not a diplomatic answer at all. It is our true desire. That's what we want.

Mr. President, did you ever think during the war that you would be the president of Vietnam, and that you would come to the United States and would be warmly received by the president of the United States at the White House?

PRESIDENT TRIET: I never thought, even after the war, in the capacity of a regular citizen, I wouldn't have thought of coming -- having a chance to come to visit the United States. And that's why this visit of mine to the United States is historic.

Now, President Bush and I had a good exchange of views on how to further enhance our relations, and both President Bush and I are satisfied with our meeting.

BLITZER: Thank you so much, Mr. President, and welcome to the United States.

Source: CNN.