Deputy Secretary Biegun: US and Vietnam “frankly look into the past”

US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun recently stated that the US and Vietnam “have a frank look into the past, resolving remnants responsibly and turning disagreements into areas that the two sides can cooperate.”

Mr. Biegun added that the two countries’ cooperation in dealing with dioxin contamination, unexploded ordnance clearance, and assisting people with disabilities in Vietnam “has helped strengthen our partnership.”

US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun

Another testament to the cooperative relationship between the two countries is that we have organized 23 [annual] dialogues on human rights,” the senior diplomat said on July 28 in an online event organized by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US to mark the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Talking about one of the issues that the two countries are said to be still different, Mr. Biegun said that “these dialogues have facilitated a frank exchange” and expressed hope that the two sides will hold talks the 24th human rights dialogue later this year.”

Concerning military relations, the second-highest US diplomat said that the two former enemy states “had built up trust between the two militaries.”

Mr. Biegun cited the example of USS Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Vietnam, the second US aircraft carrier to Vietnam, since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

We are extremely proud to support the capacity building of the Vietnam Coast Guard and support the deployment of Vietnam’s first peacekeeping force to South Sudan,” he added.

Today our shared vision of the region, reflected in our vision of the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN Vision of Indo-Pacific, is strengthening each other. We are also working closely to address a range of challenges in the Mekong region and the Indo-Pacific region.”

According to the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC, speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc said that “the two countries have healed the wounds of war, built trust and established comprehensive partnerships on the basis of mutual interests, respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions.”

On August 27, 2019, US Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink visited Truong Son martyrs cemetery (Quang Tri). He was the first US Ambassador to burn incense in a military cemetery for Vietnamese martyrs.

Ngoc added that the Vietnam-US partnership “has developed strongly and deeply in all fields, including mutual assistance in coping with COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery” as well as “expanding cooperation to address regional and global issues, including the East Sea (South China Sea), the Mekong and the Korean Peninsula, etc.”

On July 15, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a statement on China’s “completely illegal” claims and China’s “intimidation campaign” in the South China Sea.

Pompeo added that the statement expressing the US’s views on the South China Sea two days earlier “was very important, not only defining the US view but also clarifying that we will support other countries in the region to enhance their ability to maintain territorial seas under their sovereignty.”

Recently US Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink visited the Ho Chi Minh Martyrs Cemetery and the South Vietnam Military Cemetery on the same day.

In August 2019, Mr. D. Kritenbrink visited Truong Son martyrs cemetery (Quang Tri). He was the first US ambassador to burn incense at a Vietnamese martyr’s cemetery.

In reply to Tuoi Tre Online, Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink said that the main message of this visit is that the two countries Vietnam and the US have healed the wounds of war, especially the joint cooperation in overcoming the consequences of the war. These results not only help improve the lives of the people of Quang Tri but also serve as a bridge for the people as well as the governments of the two countries.

The visit to Truong Son cemetery is to pay respect to those who have died for patriotism,” said Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink.

Mr. Hoang Nam, a vice chairman of Quang Tri People’s Committee, said that the US ambassador’s first visit to burn incense at Truong Son National Martyrs Cemetery is a very significant act, a symbol of the past closure and respect the truth. “This is a very meaningful action for the two sides to close the past, towards the future of cooperation,” Mr. Hoang Nam said.

Vietnam continues to cooperate to deepen its relationship with the US

USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier docked in Danang Bay during a visit to Vietnam on March 5-9, 2020

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just spoken about the possibility of upgrading the relationship with the US to a strategic partner, after 25 years of normalizing relations and 6 years of establishing a comprehensive partnership.

Affirming “ready to be a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the world,” Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said that “Vietnam-US relations witnessed positive and real developments on all fields and on the bilateral and multilateral level on the basis of the principles of respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political institutions.”

The two sides maintain regular bilateral meetings and exchange of delegations at all levels, maintain dialogue mechanisms, enhance the promotion of relations in the fields of economy and trade, and overcome the consequences of war, security, and defense, science and technology, education and training, cooperation on regional and international issues,” Ms. Hang said at the regular press conference on July 2.

In the coming time, the two sides will continue to cooperate in order to deepen the Vietnam-US relations, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, cooperation, and development of the region and the world.”

The report said that 2020 marks 25 years of Vietnam and the US normalizing diplomatic relations and 6 years of establishing a comprehensive partnership.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the spokeswoman said it was “complicated and widespread worldwide” but “impacted” the milestones in the Vietnam-US relationship.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink, quoted by the Thanh Nien newspaper, told the press that he “had no specific information about when the diplomatic relations between the two countries would have a new name” but emphasized that the relationship really does not depend on the name.”

The Facebook page of the US Embassy on July 6 said that Kritenbrink “met nearly 30 journalists to discuss the strong bilateral partnership between the two countries.”

The diplomat was quoted as saying: “When the two countries mark 25 years of friendship this year, it’s clear that our two great nations have so much to celebrate!”

The US provided Vietnam with more than $160 million in military security assistance.

The US provided Vietnam with more than $160 million in military security assistance, including two coastguard ships worth $58 million, and Washington sold more than $182 million in military equipment to Hanoi, according to a statement of Department of State.

The US State Department’s July 27 statement said in recent years, “US-Vietnam defense and security cooperation has increased rapidly,” especially in the period 2017-2020, after the US President Donald Trump and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang established a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Specifically, the Action Plan on Defense Cooperation lasted for 3 years for the period of 2018-2020.

The US State Department said that during 2016-2019, Vietnam received more than $150 million in security assistance from the Foreign Military Assistance Program (FMF). Of this amount, more than $58 million was spent to support the transfer of two large Hamilton-class patrol ships to the Vietnam Coast Guard: the USCGC Morgenthau, delivered in late 2017, and the USCGC John. Midgett, expected to be transferred by the end of 2020.

FMF also supports Vietnam with 24 Metal Shark high-speed patrol boats, of which the last 6 were delivered in May 2020.

Also in the FMF program, Vietnam also received $5 million in fiscal 2018 through the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) program, to support the development of sea aircraft patrol training, and training on managing drone systems and coastal radar.

During 2016 – 2020, Vietnam has received $20 million from FMF program through the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative of the US Department of State (SAMSI), and $10 million through the Maritime Security Initiative Indian – Pacific ocean of the US Department of Defense.

In addition, the US sold Vietnam more than $182 in defense and security equipment in the fiscal years 2015-2019, including $52.86 million of defense equipment sold through the Direct Trade Sale (DCS) and $130 million of military equipment through the Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS).

The State Department’s announcement stated that the three main weapons and equipment items that Vietnam purchased from the US through the DCS program were: power control, laser, imaging and navigation equipment (USML Category XII); military electronics (Category XI); gas turbine engine and related equipment (Category XIX). (Translated)