US Defence Secretary Arrives in Hanoi for Official Visit to Vietnam
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|US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. Getty Images|
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on July 28 afternoon, beginning his two-day official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Vietnamese Defence Minister General Phan Van Giang.
According to Vietnamese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang, Austin’s visit will greatly contribute to strengthening the friendly and trusted relationship between the citizens and militaries of the two countries. This is along with helping to carry out the agreements reached by senior leaders within the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership framework.
Prior to Austin's trip, the US successfully donated three million Moderna vaccine doses to Vietnam through the COVAX mechanism. Of which, 1,499,960 doses were delivered to Ho Chi Minh City on July 24 and 1,500,100 doses were given to Hanoi on July 25, VOV reported.
Secretary Austin, 67, is a four-star general who previously served in the US Army. He became the first black Secretary of Defence in American history when he was appointed on January 22, two days after Joe Biden became the 46th US President.
The visit comes after Austin toured four Asian countries in March shortly after taking office, including Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), India, and Afghanistan.
The visit, part of a Southeast Asian tour with stops in the Philippines and Singapore in addition to Vietnam, is the first one to the region by a top official of the Biden-Harris administration.
It would demonstrate the importance it places on the region and on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an essential part of the Indo-Pacific architecture, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said.
"This trip will underscore the enduring U.S. commitment to the region, and our interest in upholding the rules-based international order in the region and promoting ASEAN centrality."/.
|Moderna vaccine doses donated by the U.S. arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, July 24, 2021. Photo courtesy of the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.|
Three million Moderna vaccine doses donated by the US under the COVAX facility arrived in Vietnam on July 24, UNICEF Vietnam said in a statement.
Of the doses, 1,499,960 arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on July 24 night and the rest arrived in Hanoi the next day.
US Consul General in HCMC Marie Damour said: "We are proud to be able to assist Vietnam with more U.S. vaccines, especially with the delivery of nearly 1.5 million of the total doses directly to Ho Chi Minh City, the current epicenter of Vietnam’s fast-growing outbreak," according to a statement by the consulate.
This is the second batch of the vaccines to arrive in Vietnam this month, taking total donations from the US to more than five million doses, VnExpress said.
These are part of 80 million doses that US President Joe Biden has pledged to donate to various countries, more than half of it under COVAX.
Vietnam is a beneficiary of U.S. donations being made under COVAX as well as under "regional priorities and other recipients."
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