WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) “Over the last quarter century, our two countries have built a partnership and friendship founded on shared interests, mutual respect, and people-to-people ties. Our everyday interactions are highlighted by increasing trade and investment ties, strategic cooperation, and collaboration on humanitarian and legacy of war issues, including the solemn duty of accounting for our wartime missing. In recent years, we have strengthened and expanded our Comprehensive Partnership, based on a shared vision of a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, as well as respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political systems.”
– U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, July 10, 2020
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, from October 29-30, 2020, where he will meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, and Minister for Public Security To Lam. The Secretary is traveling to Vietnam to reaffirm the strength of our comprehensive partnership, celebrate the 25th anniversary of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations, and discuss issues in the South China Sea and Mekong regions of mutual concern.
THE U.S.-VIETNAM COMPREHENSIVE PARTNERSHIP
Twenty-five years ago, the United States and Vietnam established diplomatic relations. To take this step forward, we first had to look back and confront the legacies of war and work with veterans, families, and others affected by our shared history. Today, our nations are trusted partners with a friendship grounded in mutual respect.
In areas as diverse as trade, development, education, health care, energy, and security, the United States and a strong and independent Vietnam are working together with a shared commitment to peace and security.
This shared commitment was articulated by President Trump and Vietnamese President Quang in their November 2017 joint statement, made during President Trump’s State visit to Hanoi. It was further amplified by Secretary of State Pompeo’s July 2018 and Secretary of Defense Esper’s November 2019 visits to Vietnam to meet top leaders. These visits affirmed President Trump’s and Vietnamese leaders’ commitment to a new three-year Plan of Action for Defense Cooperation for 2018 to 2020.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt port call in Vietnam during the 25th anniversary year follows on the historic March 2018 visit of USS Carl Vinson, the first U.S. aircraft carrier visit to Vietnam in more than 40 years. These port visits underscore U.S. support for a strong and independent Vietnam and demonstrate the depth of our friendship.
Our progress on people-to-people exchanges has been extraordinary. Every year tens of thousands of Vietnamese study in the United States. They return to Vietnam with a world-class education and the tools needed to contribute to a thriving economy. We were thrilled in July to sign the Peace Corps Implementing Agreement, thus deepening our ties and mutual understanding for generations to come. On September 9th, the U.S. government announced the establishment of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam, which is expected to be an excellent platform for stronger human capital development across the region.
Vietnam has served admirably as 2020 ASEAN Chair and demonstrated strong and constructive leadership as the region has tackled the COVID-19 virus. Under Vietnam’s leadership, this year we held a virtual U.S.-ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting on COVID-19 and the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Health Ministers meeting. Vietnam will also host the Women, Peace, and Security Conference this December.
President Trump and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong affirmed their commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights in two U.S.-Vietnam Joint Statements. Every year the United States and Vietnam gather to share concerns and exchange ideas on how to promote and protect human rights.
Vietnam is one of America’s fastest growing markets. What started out 25 years ago with almost no two-way trade in goods has grown to more than $81 billion in trade annually today. We are committed to achieving fair and reciprocal trade with Vietnam, as well as an open investment climate, by reducing barriers to trade and advancing market-oriented reforms. Our collaborative work to ensure the free and fair flow of goods and investment between our two countries will result in mutual prosperity.
THE UNITED STATES AND VIETNAM SHARE A VISION OF A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC REGION
The United States supports a free and open Indo-Pacific Region, which includes the South China Sea. We respect Vietnam’s rights and interests and seek to preserve peace and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law. In July, Secretary Pompeo announced a policy clarification regarding Beijing’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea and emphasized that the United States was prepared to take firm action to oppose Beijing’s campaign of bullying.
The United States stands with our Indo-Pacific allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources in the South China Sea, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. The United States rejects PRC maritime claims to the waters surrounding Vanguard Bank off Vietnam’s coast. We will oppose any efforts aimed at undermining the rules-based maritime order in the South China Sea or elsewhere.
Vietnam has been a steadfast partner in our work to grow the prosperity of the Mekong region. In September, Vietnam and the United States co-chaired the launch of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, an expansion of our efforts to support the autonomy and growth of the five Mekong-region countries. The United States recognizes Vietnam’s efforts to elevate the Mekong sub-region within ASEAN and shares the view that a prosperous and healthy Mekong region is fundamental to ASEAN’s overall prosperity.
On October 5, the United States and Vietnam held high-level discussions to expand environmental and scientific collaboration in the Mekong region, including combating wildlife trafficking and stopping illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The United States is deeply concerned about the PRC’s lack of transparency on upstream dam operations and in its limited sharing of water data with downstream countries through the Mekong River Commission. The PRC’s malign and destabilizing actions in the Mekong region, including manipulation of Mekong river water flows, negatively affect millions of people who depend on the river for their livelihoods.