US ambassador expects to accompany third US President in Vietnam
US ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, who is finishing his term in Vietnam by the end of this year has expressed the hope to welcome President Trump to Vietnam to attend the APEC summit in November after accompanying former presidents Clinton and Obama in their visits to the country.
US ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, talks with Dantri/DTiNews at the American Centre in Hanoi on September 13. Photo by Huu Nghi.
The US Ambassador expressed the hope at a recent interview with Dantri/DTiNews Newspaper in Hanoi:
As President Trump plans to attend the APEC summit in November, you may be the first US Ambassador to welcome two serving presidents to Vietnam. You also accompanied President Bill Clinton to Vietnam in 2000. What do think about these visits?
Well, I think I am lucky. When I accompanied President Clinton, I remembered going through the streets and everywhere I looked, there was maybe five or six people deep.
When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City with President Obama, a million people turned out and everywhere I looked it was 30 people deep. President Obama said, “you know I've been traveling for seven and a half years as president, I have never had a warmer welcome than in Vietnam”.
It was a very powerful. Those three days with President Obama here in Hanoi and then in Ho Chi Minh City were a highlight in my career. I've been a diplomat for almost thirty years but those three days were the pinnacle for a diplomat.
We were able to host the president of United States and in that visit, we have accomplished a lot. We moved our relationship for many, many fields and I feel like we are still on this very positive trajectory. You still have a great deal of momentum and the next presidential visit will continue that very positive trajectory, continues to develop the relationship between our two countries. Then I will have the honour of helping yet again to push our relationship and I have very optimistic that President Trump visit here and attend the APEC summit with leaders of 20 economies. It is going tremendous moment for Vietnam and great moment in Vietnam - US relations.
One of the reasons I'm so optimistic is the success of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Washington, extremely successful because it was very well prepared by terrific Vietnamese diplomats who have been forward leaning in their diplomatic engagement. The Prime Minister himself worked very hard to make sure that visit was successful. Even since then, there were other visits. Minister of Defence Ngo Xuan Lich went to Washington and met with his counterpart. The head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for External Relations Hoang Binh Quan went to Washington and his visit was extremely successful. There will be more visits leading up visit to the summit. I think this is an example of world class diplomacy which will lead to world class results in the next visit.
We have been discussing about the possible aircraft carrier visit next year, in a move to improve security ties under the Trump administration. How do you comment about this plan?
Well, when Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc went to Washington, he and President Trump announced in their joint state in their tent for an aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam. Then when General Lich went to Washington, he and his counterpart James Mattis discussed again the modalities for a visit by a US aircraft carrier. So the United States has proposed that aircraft carrier comes before Tet and I'm optimistic that something like that will happen. I expect we'll have to work hard between now and when the president comes to nail down the details of that visit.
How have the bilateral ties developed in your term?
Photo by Huu Nghi.
I think we've come a very long way in our security relationship during the time I was here, so that we had many ship visits and we're talking about an aircraft carrier visit.
We have exchanges of peace keeping, cleaning up unexploded ordinance together, cleaning up dioxin and together we built trust that has extended into the security relationship. I think that is a lasting accomplishment that I think we will continue to be partners for a long time.
But it doesn't stop there, the foundation of a strong relationship is the private sector relationship and the relationship between people. We have deepened our private sector relationship, not just by signing the contract done there, but also by the fact that to a private sectors keep exploring the opportunities together and you found ways to continue to build our trade, expand our invest. Biggest investment ever is being made in the next few years by Exxon Mobil.
But I think the ties between our one has grown tremendously so the United States is helping to create the first American style university in Ho Chi Minh City, Fulbright University Vietnam. And we have more students going back and forth than ever before, 51,000 students going to the United States this year, that's number five in the world. It's been a phenomenal growth.
I think we have more contact between Vietnamese Americans and Vietnamese than ever before, so the very, very strong ties have been developing between our peoples and that creates a foundation for a long lasting partnership. So I would say we've built trust in all those areas, we've shown respect to one another. We've had high level visits that have emphasised and strengthened that trust and deepened the ties in all those areas, starting with the visit of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, then President Obama, of course the Prime Minister's visit in May and soon President Trump. These are significant milestones in the development of our ties with the deepening of our trust in the region.
Do you plan to come back after finishing your job?
I hope to come back often. I think Vietnam is in my skin, my blood, so whatever I can do to continue to contribute this relationship, especially in the area of people to people ties and education, I would like to do. I love this place and I want to keep coming back and I want to keep doing it all I can to create opportunities, especially for Vietnamese young people.
Thank you very much!