US Secretary of State Pompeo to visit Vietnam

By Minh Nga   October 28, 2020 | 04:08 am PT
US Secretary of State Pompeo to visit Vietnam
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Colombo, Sri Lanka, October 28, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will pay a two-day visit to Vietnam on October 29 and 30 at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh has invited Pompeo to participate in celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on its website Wednesday.

In a statement to commemorate the anniversary back in July, Pompeo had said: "In the past, we were opponents on the battlefield. But today, our security relationship is all about cooperation. As we celebrate 25 years of partnership in 2020, let us renew our commitment to a strong and independent Vietnam and a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region."

He also lauded Vietnam for its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, especially in coordinating ASEAN's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and issues related to economic recovery.

The U.S. also reaffirmed it will stand alongside Vietnam in support for the peaceful resolution of disputes, the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded commerce.

Historic moment

On July 11, 1995, former U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the normalization of relations between the two countries, 20 years after the end of the Vietnam War.

Twenty five years on, Vietnam and the U.S. are now comprehensive partners, with bilateral trade increasing from $450 million in 1994 to $77 billion in 2019.

The U.S. is now Vietnam’s largest importer and Vietnam remains the U.S.’s fastest-growing market in Southeast Asia. Despite the strong adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral trade value rose nearly 10 percent in the first half of this year.

Tourism and education have been other prominent areas of Vietnam-U.S. relations. Since 2007, Vietnam has welcomed over 400,000 American visitors each year. There are more than 30,000 Vietnamese studying in the U.S. and more than 1,200 Americans studying in Vietnam annually.

At the Indo-Pacific Business Forum held in Hanoi Wednesday, an agreement was struck for Singapore’s Delta Offshore Energy (DOE) to use $3 billion of equipment and engineering services from Bechtel, General Electric, and McDermott, "utilizing the best-in-class American technology and engineering" for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant in Bac Lieu Province on Vietnam's southern coast, the U.S. State Department announced.

The coming visit to Vietnam is also a part of Pompeo's ongoing Asian tour. The U.S. Secretary of State is currently in India for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue after leaving Sri Lanka.

It will also mark his third visit to Vietnam, after the first one in July 2018 when he discussed with Vietnamese leaders ways to further the two countries’ partnership as well as global and regional issues of mutual interest, including North Korea’s denuclearization, and the second one in February 2019 when he accompanied President Donald Trump to his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.

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