Vietnam-US relations see rapid, practical developments

(VNA) The Vietnam-US relationship over the past 15 years is one of the bilateral ties that has seen the most rapid and practical developments, said Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Le Cong Phung.

Ambassador Phung told a Vietnam News Agency correspondent that 2009 was an eventful year for the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the US despite no official high-ranking meetings.

However, State and Government leaders of the two countries had many chances to meet and talk with each other at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the ASEAN Summit, and most recently, the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen , Denmark , he said.

To note, there were regular meetings and dialogues among Vietnamese and US senior officials, Phung added.

In addition, Vietnamese Ministers of National Defence, Public Security, and Agriculture and Rural Development also paid working visits to the US .

The US ’s high-ranking officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the First Deputy Secretary of State and parliamentarians had effective, straightforward and encouraging exchanges on fostering bilateral relations.

According to the ambassador, Vietnam has equally and effectively cooperated with the US in activities of the UN Security Council, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the ASEAN Summit and other conferences. In fact, the relationship between the two countries in 2009 saw deep and quality developments, he said.

Phung said that in the fields of economic, trade and investment, although the US ’s imports decreased by over 30 percent in 2009 due to the world economic crisis, its imports from Vietnam dropped only 1.8 percent.

Regarding total investment, although the US is ranking seventh among 83 countries and territories investing in Vietnam , in 2009 alone, it was the leading foreign investor in the Southeast Asian country.

At present, more than 10,000 Vietnamese students are studying in the US , Phung said, adding that Vietnam ’s policy is to continue creating conditions for graduate and postgraduate students to learn in the US as well as to improve the quality of local universities.

The US is ready to support the building of US or US-Vietnam universities in Vietnam , he said.

The security and political relationship between the two countries has also seen positive developments. The Ministers of Public Security and National Defence visited the US to discuss with their US counterparts and other US government officials specific measures to step up cooperation.

The diplomat revealed that strategic dialogues between the two defence ministries would be lifted to the deputy-ministerial level. This move will create a step forward for both sides to increase mutual understanding and trust for the sake of better cooperative relations.

Vietnam is also promoting cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchange by sending delegations and students to the US , Phung said, adding that this laid a firm footing for the two nations to expand multifaceted cooperation in the years to come.

The two sides were determined to elevate the bilateral ties to a new height based on foundations both have created over the past 15 years as well as agreements signed between senior leaders of the two countries in 2008 and previous years, he stressed.

Phung also noted particular characteristics of the Vietnam-US relationship, which, he said, was hostile in the past because of the war.

However, the situation changed since early 90s and the two countries normalised relations in 1995. Since then, the bilateral ties have developed rapidly and practically, the ambassador said.

The two sides are now working closely to prepare for the upcoming 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties in order to create a new atmosphere in both countries, thus promoting and deepening the bilateral relationship, Phung noted.

According to the diplomat, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is scheduled to visit the US next year to attend a high-level conference on nuclear weapons at the invitation of President Barack Obama, while State President Nguyen Minh Triet plans to make a trip to the United Nations.

These visits will create a momentum for Vietnamese and US ministries and agencies to foster their cooperation. 2010, therefore, will be a busier year and cooperative ties will be more animated, laying a new impetus for Vietnam-US cooperation in the next decade, the ambassador said.

Regarding future cooperation, Phung said the US wants Vietnam to help it boost relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as Vietnam will assume the bloc’s presidency in 2010.

The US expects to cooperate closely with Vietnam in the traditional and non-traditional issues such as counter-terrorism, regional security and climate change. It also wants Vietnam to join deeper in world and regional mechanisms as well as the Asia-Pacific economy.

The US has expressed its wish to continue cooperating with Vietnam in MIA issue as well as in addressing the war’s consequences, the ambassador said./.