Farewell Dinner Remarks by Ambassador Le Van Bang

Embassy of Vietnam in Washington would like to inform you that after eight an half years of serving in the United States of America, first as Vietnam Ambassador to the United Nations and then as the first Vietnam Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Le Van Bang, spouse Bui Thi An and son Le Tuan left Washington on June 10, 2001 for Vietnam to take up new duties.

The following is Ambassador remarks at Farewell diner to the US Senators, Congressmen, officials, Ambassadors, diplomats, businessmen, educators, scholars, Vietnamese-Americans,Vietnam veterans, journalists, Embassy's staff and friends:

Mayflower Hotel, June 5, 2001

Congressman Philip Crane,
Congressman Lane Evans,
Your Excellencies - My ambassadors colleagues,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am felt with deep honor tonight having many friends to come not to say goodbye to me but to express your friendship and support for the good relations between Vietnam and the United States of America.

I began my journey in America 10 years ago when I was a fellow at the International Center for Development. I came to DC on March 28, 1991, a cherry blossom day. US-Vietnam relations since that day have gone a long way. We began with the "roadmap" on April the 9 of 1991. We are near our finishing line today with the prospect of approval of the BTA by the US Congress. We have exchanged visits by our Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of States and Defense, highlighting by the historic visit to Hanoi by President Clinton. US-Vietnam relations are fully normalized by these events.

Given the turbulent history of the relations between our countries, these developments are no small deeds indeed. I am here tonight, on behalf of the Vietnamese people, to solemnly to express my profound gratitude:

To our friends in the Congress, from the House and the Senate who made countless trips to Vietnam and hundred of hearings and votes to improve our relations.

To officials in the President Reagan Administration, President George Bush Senior Administration, President Bill Clinton Administration and President George W. Bush Administration. These officials are from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, Commerce, Agriculture, USTR, OPIC, EXIMBANK, TDA, and many more. Many of you are here tonight. Your efforts really help to heal the wounds of the war and move our nations forward.

To many of my colleagues, Ambassadors, diplomats, especially our ASEAN Ambassadors. You are my brothers, sisters working together to promote our ASEAN, our countries in Southeast Asia.

To hundreds of US NGO's, who pioneered in Vietnam after the war up till now. You are indeed the first US Ambassador to the unified Vietnam that began our reconciliation with humanitarian projects.

To the business community, who are tirelessly working year in and year out for improving economic and trade relations with Vietnam.

To many Vietnamese veterans - in many capacities without whose support we might not be here tonight.

To hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Americans who work so hard to overcome the trauma of the war and come back to help Vietnam.

To many friends of Vietnam in individual capacity, many of them in the media and religious groups, academic, research centers, etc. You are my advisors, my lobbyists who contribute a great deal to the welfare of the Vietnamese people.

My special thanks to Senator John Kerry, Senator John McCain, Congressman Philip Crane, Congressman Lane Evans, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and to my five friends: Ginny Foote, Frances Zwenig, Mark Salter, Nancy Stetson, Tom Valleley who share with me all the joys and worries during these past 15 years.

Last, but not least, my staff members and my wife for bearing with me the hardship and sharing with me the happiness whenever we got one more positive step of developments in our relations.

Looking ahead, I see many challenges coming my way as I shall return home and take up my new duties, some of them might be out of my areas of expertise. But I have strong confidence that in my new capacity, I will receive your continued support to further building our most treasured US-Vietnam friendship and cooperation.

Tonight, I would like to make a solemn commitment to you that wherever I am, I will try my best to work for the betterment of US-Vietnam relationships.

My wife joins me to express our deep thanks to you.