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It’s time to look ahead: A/S Stilwell says in Hanoi
Linh Pham 23:45, 2019/12/19
Efforts highlight the US and Vietnam's shared vision and it's time to turn a point of contention into one of collaboration.

The time has come for the United States and Vietnam to look ahead, and to understand that the friendship is no longer shaped by what was, US Assistant Secretary of State David R. Stilwell said during his three-day visit to Hanoi starting December 16.

 US Assistant Secretary David R. Stilwell in Hanoi during his visit on Dec 16-18. Photo: Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

“Rather, it is shaped by what can be and our shared future together, rooted in mutual respect and cooperation,” David Stilwell said in a statement Wednesday.

That the two countries are celebrating 25 years of normalized relations is proof that “we have the ability to overcome resentment, distrust, and bitterness and replace them with trust, respect, and cooperation.”

Today, the two nations are trusted partners with a friendship anchored in mutual respect and it’s the result of hard work and the vision of many people from both sides who were firmly committed to the belief that both the US and Vietnam could work together in learning from and putting aside the past, the diplomat noted.

Indeed, efforts highlight the countries’ shared vision to be honest about the past, deal responsibly with remaining legacy issues, and “turn a point of contention into one of collaboration.”

Working together to resolve issues of the past builds strategic trust, and enables the countries to further strengthen our forward-looking partnership that advances shared interests and strong people-to-people ties.

 Representatives from the US and Vietnam join hand to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the bilateral relations. Photo: MOFA

The people-to-people ties have formed the bedrock of Vietnam – US increasingly vital relationship. In 1995, fewer than 60,000 Americans visited Vietnam each year. Today, nearly 700,000 Americans travel to Vietnam annually.

In 1995, there were fewer than 800 Vietnamese studying at universities in the US. Today, approximately 30,000 young Vietnamese are pursuing studies at all levels all across the US.

Meanwhile, no country in Southeast Asia sends more students to the US than Vietnam. Vietnamese students currently constitute the 6th largest group of international students enrolled in American universities.

Rapidly growing trade relationship and the investment of American companies in Vietnam has fostered the two countries’ economic success. US businesses are investing more and more in Vietnam while Vietnamese producers are sending more of their goods to enthusiastic American consumers.

As a result, the bilateral trade in goods reached US$60 billion from US$450 million twenty-five years ago.

Trust between the two armies were also built with the lifting of the arms embargo in 2016 and the USS Carl Vinson was welcomed to Danang, marking the first US aircraft carrier to visit the country since the end of the Vietnam War.

This cooperation contributes to a free and open Indo-Pacific characterized by respect for the sovereignty and independence of all nations, regardless of size, and cooperation and respect for rules, not by hegemony and might-makes-right.

Politically, the health of the bilateral relationship can also be measured by the frequent exchange of visits by the two countries’ leaders.

The US-Vietnam bilateral relationship is enjoying a rising tide, advanced by five presidential or prime ministerial visits in the span of just four years.

In February 2019, President Trump paid the second visit to Vietnam. In fact, President Trump’s visit to Hanoi and Danang in November 2017 was his very first visit to Southeast Asia as president.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House in May 2017. In the same month, Secretary Pompeo welcomed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Washington.

"Today, we are working hand-in-hand to address a range of challenges in the Mekong region, ASEAN, and the Indo-Pacific writ large including regional security," Stilwell emphasized.

In addition, the US is eager to support Vietnam as it assumes positions of global leadership next year, from joining the United Nations Security Council for a two-year non-permanent term to chairing ASEAN during a pivotal time in the organization’s history.

Last but not least, Stilwell supports a new generation of Vietnamese who are ready to make their marks on the world. He said: “As you pursue the future that you want, I want you to know that the US will be right there with you as your partner and as your friend. We stand unwaveringly committed to supporting a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.”

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