US, Vietnam share common strategic interests: Vice President Harris

By Viet Anh   August 26, 2021 | 06:41 am PT
Identifying growth opportunities while tackling common challenges like pandemics, climate crisis, supply chain maintenance and ensuring freedom of navigation are strategic interests shared by the U.S. and Vietnam.

This perspective emerged in extensive talks she held with the Vietnamese leadership, visiting U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said at a press conference Thursday.

Asked what she meant by "upgrading relationship as a strategic partnership" in talks held with top Vietnamese officials, she said: "Strengthening the relationship with Vietnam strategically means that we are not only thinking about what might be our challenges, but also what are our opportunities."

She said the two sides talked about Covid-19 as a current example of a global public health crisis, and what the U.S. and Vietnam can do together to join forces to not only deal with the current moment, but also in preparation for what will inevitably happen in the future.

The U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is at press conference in Hanoi, August 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris at a press meet in Hanoi, August 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Harris said she believed that her trip signaled the beginning of the next chapter of the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam that is built on the foundation of a mutual desire to strengthen both nation's security and economic standing as well as their ability to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

The signing of a 99-year land lease to establish a new U.S. embassy in Hanoi was symbolic of that new chapter in bilateral relations as well as "evidence of our enduring commitment to the partnership we have with Vietnam."

She said both sides understand that there's a connection between a global public health crisis like Covid-19 and the production of necessary goods as well as the impact it can have on global economies and their workforce. The U.S. and Vietnam discussed strengthening the workforce of both countries towards increasing the strength of the supply chain, she said.

Harris said that they also had productive conversations on the climate crisis, saying the U.S. and Vietnam share concerns on the Mekong River. Land erosion was an issue of mutual concern and the two sides discussed what they could do together about investment in innovation and technology, including renewable energy development.

"Those are examples of what it means to strengthen the strategic relationship," Harris said.

Freedom of navigation a priority

Harris said freedom of navigation was a high priority for both countries as it is related not only to security, but also to commerce. In this, the two countries are not going to shy away from difficult conversations, she said.

"We will continue to work with Vietnam, to push back against threats to freedom of navigation and the rule-based international order."

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the U.S. and Vietnam will continue to strengthen economic ties, she said. The U.S. has launched initiatives that will help Vietnam transition to a digital economy, and this will boost growth, especially of businesses owned by women and ethnic minority communities, she added.

In addressing the climate crisis and collaborating on a clean energy future, the two sides have launched the Mekong Coastal Habitat Conservation Program to help with issues that are impacting the Mekong Delta, she said.

The U.S. Vice President welcomed Vietnam joining the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate because there was a need to accelerate adoption of climate smart agriculture.

Harris also advocated for reduction of tariffs on American agricultural goods and said there was a positive reaction from the other side.

In talks with Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, the possibility of working together with the U.S. on using satellite technology to help farmers predict weather cycles was mentioned.

Free and open Indo-Pacific

Harris reaffirmed the U.S.'s commitment to the common vision of a free and open Indo Pacific, saying the U.S. fully appreciated and took pride in its role as member of the Indo Pacific region with Southeast Asia as its center.

Vietnam holds a particular importance and significance for the U.S. and it will continue high level security cooperation to support a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam, Harris said.

She said the U.S intends to strengthen its participation and partnership with partners and allies, and further and strengthen its interests in a way that is collaborative, meeting the challenges of the moment and the challenges of tomorrow together.

Harris also said that throughout her trip, she was reminded of how much potential there is in this region and the potential that the U.S. and its partners have. Countries have the ambition to achieve what is possible around common interests and common goals, she said.

She said "the U.S. will be coming back time and time again in the years ahead" in the understanding that "there is much that we can do together."

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