Vietnam, US leaders 'hit it off' first time they met: ambassador

By Vu Anh   September 7, 2023 | 12:03 am PT
Vietnam, US leaders 'hit it off' first time they met: ambassador
General Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong raises a glass of wine with then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Washington in 2015. Photo by AFP
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper highly regards the relationship between General Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and U.S. President Joe Biden, saying the two leaders "hit it off" from the beginning.

At a press meet in Hanoi on Thursday, Knapper said Biden's upcoming visit to Vietnam is significant as it would be the first time a U.S. president has come at the invitation of a Party General Secretary.

President Biden and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong enjoy a relationship that's nearly 10 years old when they first met in 2015 in Washington, he added.

Trong then met Biden, then U.S. vice president, during a visit per an invitation by former U.S. President Barack Obama. During a meal at the U.S. Department of State, Biden read some lines of "The Tales of Kieu" in English to Trong as they commemorated the Vietnam-U.S. relationship.

"They were able to get along very well," Knapper said.

Joe Biden, then U.S. Vice President, reads some lines of "The Tales of Kieu" as General Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as they raise wine glasses in Washington in July 2015. Video by the U.S. State Department

Knapper said Biden's visit to Vietnam per Trong's invitation is significant as it reflects "the personal ties these two leaders enjoy and the respect that [the U.S.] wants to show the General Secretary."

"I think it's going to be an extremely successful positive visit that really does highlight personal ties between these two leaders, but also bigger ties between our two countries."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Biden would make a state-level visit to Vietnam from September 10 to 11. It would be his first visit to Vietnam since taking office in 2021.

Vietnam and the U.S. normalized relations in July 1995 and upgraded their ties to a comprehensive partnership in July 2013. Trade between the two countries reached over $123.86 billion in 2022, a 11% increase from 2021, and trade during the first six months of 2023 reached over $51.2 billion.

The U.S. is the largest export market and the second largest trade partner for Vietnam, while Vietnam is the 8th largest trade partner for the U.S. globally, and the largest among ASEAN.

go to top