US Vice President Concludes Vietnam Visit, Next Chapter in Bilateral Relations Begins

US Vice President Kamala Harris said her visit to Vietnam signals the beginning of the next chapter in the relationship between the two countries.
August 27, 2021 | 07:44
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VP Kamala Harris waives her hand before boarding Air Force Two to leave Vietnam. (Photo: Reuters).
VP Kamala Harris waives her hand before boarding Air Force Two to leave Vietnam. Photo: Reuters

Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris left Hanoi on August 26 afternoon, concluding her three-day visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan.

During the visit, she met senior Vietnamese leaders, including Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to discuss bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern.

She attended the opening of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) office in Southeast Asia and witnessed the signing ceremony of a land lease agreement to build a new headquarters of the US Embassy in Hanoi. The project has a total budget of US$1.2 billion with a 99-year land lease term.

US Vice President Concludes Vietnam Visit, Next Chapter in Bilateral Relations Begins
US Vice President Kamala Harris (left) waves beside Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi. Photo: VNA

Harris announced that the US would donate one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam, bringing the total number of US vaccines to Vietnam to 6 million doses.

About 770,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered on August 25-26, and the remainder will be shipped on August 27, the VOV reported.

Before leaving for the airport, Harris delivered a speech at a press briefing, affirming that the US maintains high-level cooperation on security in support of an independent and prosperous Vietnam.

New beginning in US-Vietnam relations

VP Kamala Harris speaks to the press at a press briefing held in Hanoi on August 26. (Photo: VNA)
VP Kamala Harris speaks at a press briefing held in Hanoi on August 26. Photo: VNA

At the press conference, the Vice President said her visit to Vietnam signals the beginning of the next chapter in the relationship between the two countries.

She told the media at a press briefing that she is honoured to be the first vice president to visit Vietnam since diplomatic relations were established in 1995.

We have had an enduring commitment to this relationship, because it matters to the people, to the security and to the prosperity of the American people, and we believe, the people of Vietnam,” Harris said.

She reaffirmed the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US will continue to have high-level security cooperation in support of a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam.

We will continue to work with Vietnam to push back against threats to freedom of navigation and the rule-based international order,” she noted.

According to the US Vice President, Southeast Asia is the center of the Asia-Pacific region, and Vietnam is of special importance and significance to the United States.

The same day, Harris meets with State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to discuss issues related to the US - Vietnam relations as well as regional issues of mutual concern.
US Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Vietnam's President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to discuss issues related to the US - Vietnam relations as well as regional issues of mutual concern. Photo: VNA

The US intends to strengthen our participation and partnership with partners and allies, in a way that is collaborative to meet the challenges of the moment and of the future together,” she said, whether it’s Vietnam, Singapore, Southeast Asia or the Indo Pacific.

Harris said that she knew Covid-19 is No1 concern for Vietnamese people at present. She assured that the US will be with Vietnam in this battle, saying the US has provided donations of vaccines and freezers to Vietnam.

During the visit Harris announced the Biden administration to donate more than one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam.

The US earlier donated five million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 77 deep freezers to preserve and distribute the vaccines.

In the remarks, she also noted how the two countries have strengthened economic ties during the pandemic.

During our meetings with the officials and leaders here in Vietnam, I advocated for a reduction of tariffs on American agricultural goods and there was a positive reaction, and we’re looking forward to following up on that conversation.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during a meeting at the Government Office in Hanoi, August 25, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
US Vice President Kamala Harris and Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during a meeting at the Government Office in Hanoi, August 25, 2021. Photo: VnExpress

The US has also launched initiatives that will help Vietnam transition to a more digital economy and help grow women- and ethnic minority-owned businesses, she said.

Addressing the climate crisis and green transition were also issues of much discussion.

The United States welcomed Vietnam joining the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), an initiative announced at President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate that will be launched at COP-26 in November 2021.

Harris said she has had “extensive conversations” with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh regarding this smart agriculture initiative, noting that the Vietnamese leader is interested in what the US is doing with satellite technologies to help farmers predict weather cycles.

White House highlights enhancement of comprehensive partnership

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with the media as she visits the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology where nearly 270,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine arrived earlier in the morning, in Hanoi, Vietnam, August 26, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with the media as she visits the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology where nearly 270,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine arrived earlier in the morning, in Hanoi, Vietnam, August 26, 2021. Photo: Reuters

The White House on August 25 issued a statement highlighting the enhancement of the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, affirming that US Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to Vietnam signifies the US’s deep commitment not only to the region, but also to the US-Vietnam relationship, according to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

Over the past several decades, the bilateral relationship has made significant strides, to the point where the two nations now cooperate on a wide range of issues, including fighting Covid-19 and preparing for future health security threats, combating climate change, and addressing shared legacies of war. The US has deepened economic ties as Vietnam’s second largest trading partner and its top export market worldwide, the statement said.

Our security relationship has dramatically expanded as we support Vietnam’s independence and sovereignty, particularly in the maritime domain. The US and Vietnam have also advanced capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats through our partnership on the Global Health Security Agenda. The already-robust and growing partnership between our peoples has resulted in nearly 30,000 Vietnamese studying in the US, contributing nearly 1 billion USD to the US economy,” the White House said.

The US and Vietnam have overcome a difficult past to become trusted partners, the statement said, adding that Vice President Harris committed to Vietnamese government leaders the US's resolve to continue addressing shared war legacy issues.

Additionally, the US will also support Vietnam’s enhancement of its maritime security and law enforcement capabilities.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the Partnership for Higher Education Reform, a five-year project providing up to $14.2 million to strengthen teaching, research, innovation, and governance within the three largest national universities in Vietnam./.

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