Time to upgrade US-Vietnam relationship, says US envoy

By Viet Anh   April 20, 2022 | 04:46 am PT
Time to upgrade US-Vietnam relationship, says US envoy
U.S.'s Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper addresses a press conference in Hanoi, April 20, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Ambassador Marc Knapper emphasized Wednesday that the U.S. and Vietnam have deepened cooperation on many strategic issues and it's time to upgrade the bilateral relationship.

"Upgrading the relationship with Vietnam to strategic partnership is a priority, not just for myself but the U.S. government," Knapper said at a press conference in Hanoi, responding to a VnExpress International query about what he sees as the priorities during his tenure.

He said that in 2023, when the U.S. and Vietnam will celebrate 10 years of their comprehensive partnership, it would be great if this is upgraded to the next level, but he did not want to make any predictions.

It's up to bilateral conversations to figure out how and when both sides could achieve the goal, he said, reemphasizing that the U.S. was hopeful that the "two countries can get it done as soon as possible."

He noted that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris had mentioned her government’s strong desire to upgrade the relationship when she visited Vietnam last year.

The U.S. believes that upgrading it to a strategic partnership will not only be an accurate reflection of the kind of work the two sides are doing together, but also open the door to much deeper and broader cooperation between two countries.

Knapper said the U.S. and Vietnam were working together on issues that are basic to the well-being of both nations.

"If that's not strategic cooperation, I'm not sure what it is."

Knapper said the U.S. was very committed to working with Vietnam to strengthen its maritime security and maritime domain awareness capabilities.

The U.S. has given two Coast Guard cutters to Vietnam, a clear expression of the nation's interest in this regard, he added.

"We are prepared to transfer a third Coast Guard cutter," he said, without elaborating.

Vietnam and the U.S., two former foes, normalized relations in 1995.

Milestones in the bilateral ties included the U.S. fully lifting the lethal arms ban on Vietnam during President Barack Obama's visit in May 2016, and sending aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to Da Nang in March 2018, marking the biggest U.S. military presence in Vietnam since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

Bilateral trade has surged from $450 million in 1994 to $111.56 billion in 2021.

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