US national security advisor seeks to expand cooperation with Vietnam

By Ngoc Anh   November 21, 2020 | 05:38 am PT
US national security advisor seeks to expand cooperation with Vietnam
U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien (L) is with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, November 21, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien discussed expanding security and defense cooperation while on a three-day visit to Vietnam that commenced Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh met with O'Brien on Saturday, both officials agreeing the relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. had never reached such heights, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a press release.

In the field of security and defense, Minh praised cooperation between the two sides, including maintaining bilateral dialogue mechanisms and strengthening cooperation in search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The U.S. earlier announced a donation of $2.1 million in immediate relief to people affected by last month’s multiple storms and flooding in central Vietnam.

The two sides also exchanged views on promoting bilateral relations, which prioritized the early resumption of regular delegation exchanges, strengthening humanitarian cooperation, and bilateral trade and investment relations on the basis of mutual benefits.

The same day, O’Brien met with Minister of Public Security To Lam to discuss fighting transnational crime and increasing cooperation on other security issues.

"NSA Robert O’Brien and Vietnamese Minister [of] Public Security To Lam met today to discuss joint efforts to combat transnational crime in support of the new U.S.-Mekong Partnership, and to expand cooperation on a broad range of security issues," the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a post on its Facebook page.

During his meeting with Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich, O’Brien stressed that the U.S. highly valued its comprehensive partnership with Vietnam and affirmed his nation’s continued support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam as well as for the Southeast Asian country to play an increasingly important role in the region.

O’Brien said the U.S. will continue to help Vietnam overcome the consequences of the war as the priority of bilateral defense cooperation. He also thanked Vietnam for its efforts to assist in the search for the remains of U.S. soldiers reported missing in action.

Over three decades, Vietnam has helped find the remains of 770 American soldiers active during the Vietnam War. There are an estimated 1,200 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam since the conflict ended.

Minister Lich said O’Brien’s visit comes at a time when Vietnam and the U.S. celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations. He also highlighted outstanding cooperation achievements between the two sides like the implementation of a dioxin cleanup project at Bien Hoa Airport, the most contaminated spot in the country, a project to support Vietnamese with disabilities in localities sprayed with Agent Orange and the U.S. support in the field of UN peacekeeping as well as capacity building assistance for Vietnam Coast Guard.

During a meeting with O'Brien, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highly appreciated the close and timely cooperation between Vietnam and the U.S. in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. The two sides agreed that the two countries will continue to cooperate in dealing with challenges facing by both.

Vietnam earlier donated hundreds of thousands of antibacterial face masks and other medical supplies to the U.S., the world’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot, to aid its pandemic fight while the U.S. provided a $9.5 million package comprising medical assistance and support to mitigate Covid-19 impacts on the Vietnamese economy.

O'Brien, 54, will be in Vietnam until Sunday to discuss bilateral relations and regional and international issues that concern both Vietnam and the U.S., Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told the press Thursday.

He is the fourth person to hold the national security advisor position during the presidency of Donald Trump.

He participated in last week’s virtual ASEAN - U.S. Summit organized by Vietnam, praising Vietnam's role as the chair of ASEAN this year, particularly in coordinating regional efforts amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

His visit came more than two weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Hanoi where he affirmed his nation’s continued support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam.

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