In 2009, Vietnam and the US deepened their relationship in different areas such as economics, politics, trade, education and investment. They also agreed to lift annual strategic talks to ministerial-level.
A US-based Voice of Vietnam (VOV) correspondent recently interviewed the Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, Le Cong Phung, on the efficiency of relations between Vietnam and the US in 2009 and future cooperation.
Reporter: What is your assessment of Vietnam-US relations in 2009?
Mr Phung: During the year, we launched many diverse activities to strengthen bilateral relations. Despite having no official meetings between our top leaders, the Vietnamese President and Prime Minister had a number of meetings with US President Obama and several senior officials at the United Nations Security Council, the APEC Summit and the ASEAN Summit. In addition, more contact and talks were held between senior officials from both countries.
Over the past year, three Vietnamese Deputy PMs visited the US to compare notes with US officials on regional and international issues of common concern and ways of developing bilateral relations.
Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, Minister of Public Security, Minister of Industry and Trade also visited the US while US senior officials including the first Deputy Secretary of State and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had effective and frank discussions with Vietnamese officials on measures to further enhance bilateral cooperation.
Reporter: Vietnam successfully held the “Meet Vietnam” event in the US. What is your opinion on the event and are there any plans for future cooperation between the two countries?
Mr Phung: This was the biggest event that Vietnam had ever held in the US to promote mutual understanding thanks to the fine development of bilateral relations. However, a lot more needs to be done in the future. For example, Vietnam will open a Consulate General in Houston or Chicago and some other cities based on negotiations and an agreement with the US.
Reporter: What is the difference between the US foreign policies under the rule of President Obama and President Bush?
Mr Phung: The Obama administration’s policy for Southeast Asia and Vietnam is a continuation of Bush President’s policy as the US wants to make its presence felt and raise its status in Southeast Asia. The US is currently paying special attention to Vietnam and Indonesia as nations that are suitable for promoting cooperation with.
The US wants to consolidate its ties with ASEAN and strengthen links in the region by attending the US-ASEAN summit for the first time. The US President and the US Secretary visited Asia this year and other senior officials are due to visit Vietnam next year. Most ASEAN countries want these high-level meetings to be held in Hanoi.
Reporter: In which fields is the US keen to cooperate with Vietnam and have both countries come up with any specific plans for cooperation in the future?
Mr Phung: The US wants to work closely with Vietnam to deal with the consequences of the war and considers Vietnam-US relations as a bulwark from which to deploy its strategies in the region.
The US highly values Vietnam’s role in ASEAN and wants to tighten ties with Vietnam in the fields of combating terrorism, preserving security and coping with climate change.
Reporter: Do both countries plan to hold any events to mark the 15th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 2010?
Mr Phung: Vietnam-US relations have been developing well for 15 years. Since 2005 there have been regular exchanges of visits by top leaders of the two countries, marking milestones in every stage of development for the benefit of long-term relationship.
Relations have changed from conflict into friendly co-operation in every field. Vietnam is working closely with the US to organise events to mark the 15th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 2010 and the US Department of State wants to make the anniversary really significant for both countries.
Vietnam plans to invite important figures who have made significant contributions to normalising bilateral relations such as former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.
Next year, the Prime Minister’s visits to the US to attend a conference on the impact of nuclear weapons invited by President Barack Obama and the State President’s visit to the UN will provide important impetus for relevant agencies of both countries to increase close cooperation. 2010 will be a busy year for both countries to give a boost to bilateral cooperation in the coming decade.
Reporter: Thank you very much.