New US ambassador to Vietnam hits the ground running

By Staff reporters   November 6, 2017 | 03:39 pm GMT+7
New US ambassador to Vietnam hits the ground running
New U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink arrives in Hanoi on November 4. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Daniel Kritenbrink will accompany President Trump to the APEC Summit in Da Nang and on a state visit to Hanoi later this week.

The new U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink presented his letter of credence to Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang on Monday morning before officially starting his mission.

Kritenbrink, 49, arrived in Hanoi on Saturday, telling local media at Noi Bai airport that he would start work immediately.

"It’s great to be back in Vietnam," Kritenbrink wrote on his official Facebook page. "I’ve had the opportunity to visit three times before, working to advance our Comprehensive Partnership and experiencing firsthand the kindness of the Vietnamese people," he wrote.

"This is a great time to be in Vietnam: our two countries share a wide range of interests, including regarding security, trade and investment, and people-to-people ties."

He will accompany President Donald Trump to the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit in Da Nang later this week and on a state visit to Hanoi after the summit.

Trump nominated him in July and the Senate confirmed his position late last month.

At a meeting in the U.S. in September, he pledged to continue to enhance the relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. with a focus on security, trade, human rights and dealing with the consequences of war.

His wife and children are expected to join him in Hanoi next month.

Kritenbrink, a Virginia native, is a career diplomat with extensive experience in Asian affairs. He has been a diplomat since 1994 and currently works as senior advisor for North Korea policy at the State Department, the White House said in a statement following his nomination in July.

He also worked as deputy chief of mission in Beijing and speaks Chinese and Japanese, the statement said.

His predecessor, Ted Osius, was nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2014. He has been appointed vice president of Fulbright University Vietnam, the first American-style private university in the country.

David Brown, a retired veteran U.S. diplomat, told VnExpress International that “Kritenbrink has deep experience in east Asian affairs including service for the past two years as the senior officer for Asia and Pacific on the National Security Council.”

“His intimate knowledge of the foreign policy ‘process’ and close relationships with other senior Asia hands will be a key to Kritenbrink’s effectiveness in Hanoi,” Brown said.