Vietnam PM asked US Congress to boost war legacy reconciliation

By Thanh Danh   April 8, 2023 | 10:26 pm PT
Vietnam PM asked US Congress to boost war legacy reconciliation
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh receives U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley at the government's headquarters in Hanoi on April 8, 2023. Photo by Vietnam Government Portal
Receiving a U.S. congressional delegation on Saturday, PM Pham Minh Chinh asked the U.S. Congress to increase budget for supporting Vietnam in overcoming war consequences.

At the meeting at the government’s headquarters in Hanoi, PM Chinh said Vietnam considers the U.S. one of its most important partners and expressed desire to promote the countries' Comprehensive Partnership on the basis of respecting each other's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions, according to a statement on the government news portal.

He proposed the U.S. Congress spend more resources and budget in its cooperation with Vietnam in overcoming war consequences and responding to climate change.

He recalled a phone call between General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and U.S. President Joe Biden on March 29, during which Biden said Vietnam is an important partner for the U.S., which supports an "independent, self-reliant and prosperous" Vietnam, and underlined the U.S.’s respect for Vietnam’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political institutions, saying that respect is an important foundation for the bilateral relationship.

The PM then suggested the two sides increase delegation exchanges and contacts at all levels, especially high-level departments within this year.

Senator Jeff Merkley, who led the U.S. delegation, emphasized that cooperation in overcoming war consequences is important for the process of reconciliation, healing and building trust between the two countries, and that U.S. Congress members considered Vietnam as one of the most important partners in the region.

Vietnam and the U.S. signed the first memorandum of understanding on cooperation in dealing with unexploded ordnance after the Vietnam War in December 2013 in Hanoi.

During a visit to Vietnam in September 2022, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins said the U.S. had provided US$200 million for UXO clearance in Vietnam.

In March, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced an additional funding of US$73 million to clean up dioxins at Bien Hoa, a former U.S. airbase in southern Vietnam, and handed over 30,000 square meter of cleaned land to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense.

The project at Bien Hoa airport is nearly four times larger than the dioxin treatment project at Da Nang airport, another U.S.’s former airbase, which was completed in 2018.

The U.S. Congressmen said that the DNA analysis program to help find the remains of U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese soldiers missing during the war is another important activity and should continue to be deployed.

Overcoming war consequences was also highlighted during the meeting of the delegation with Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang on Saturday.

At the meeting, Senator Merkley presented documents on missing Vietnamese soldiers during the war. He announced that the U.S. Congress had approved a package to raise support for the dioxin decontamination project at Bien Hoa airport by US$300 million.

Senator Jeff Merkley hands over documents about missing Vietnamese soldiers and lost information during the war to General Phan Van Giang. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong

Senator Jeff Merkley hands over documents about missing Vietnamese soldiers and lost information during the Vietnam War to General Phan Van Giang, Minister of National Defense. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong

Also on Saturday, the congressional delegation met with Vietnam’s National Assembly chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, during which they discussed a number of regional and international issues, including the East Sea issue, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

The two sides agreed on maintaining peace, stability, cooperation, ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, not using or threatening to use force in international relations, promoting the compliance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Hue wished to further reinforce cooperation between the two legislatures in all areas and via all channels. He said he hopes both sides will set up a cooperation framework, consider building a mechanism for exchanges and official working sessions between their agencies, and strengthen ties among parliamentarians’ groups. He wished that the U.S. Congress would soon set up the U.S.-Vietnam Friendly Parliamentarians’ Group.

The U.S. Congress members expressed their hope for the early signing of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) while reiterating the importance that the U.S. attaches to the ASEAN and its support for ASEAN's central role. They also pledged to continue promoting ASEAN-U.S .relations in the future to address common issues such as climate change.

Vietnam and the U.S. normalized their relations in 1995.

The two countries established a Comprehensive Partnership in 2013.

Bilateral trade reached more than US$123 billion in 2022, up 11% year-on-year. The U.S. is Vietnam’s largest export market for many years, while Vietnam is the eighth largest trading partner of the U.S. in the world and the largest partner in ASEAN.

The U.S.’s foreign direct investment in Vietnam currently stays at US$11.4 billion, ranking 11th among countries and territories investing directly in Vietnam. About 30,000 Vietnamese students study in the U.S., contributing $1 billion to that country’s economy.

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