Vietnam, US tout burgeoning ties at state dinner

By Staff reporters   November 11, 2017 | 08:16 pm GMT+7

U.S. president Donald Trump attends a state dinner hosted by his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang before the state visit Sunday in Hanoi.

The presidents of Vietnam and the U.S. welcomed growing bilateral ties at a state banquet that took place right after Donald Trump landed in Hanoi on Saturday.

"Since the normalization of relations two decades ago, leaders and people of the two countries have shelved the past, overcome differences, built on similarities, looked to the future, and unceasingly forged bilateral friendship and cooperation," Quang said at the banquet.

He said since Trump taking office, bilateral ties have continued to grow, becoming more productive and substantive in a wide range of areas.

"President Donald Trump's visit to Vietnam represents an important milestone and the best moment in the history of bilateral relations, opening up a vast future for new pages in the bonds between our nations," Quang said.

In response, Trump hailed Vietnam's development, calling the country "one of the great miracles of the world."

"It's very impressive no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, when you look at what's happened in Vietnam, there is nothing more impressive," Trump said.

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Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang (R) and his U.S, counterpart Donald Trump exchange toasts during the state dinner on Saturday. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Trump touched down in Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport on Saturday evening to pay a state visit to Vietnam the next day after ramming home a strong message on trade at an Asia-Pacific summit in the central city of Da Nang.

Last May, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc became the first Southeast Asian leader to pay an official visit to the White House, in a bid to gauge Trump's policies towards the flashpoint East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, tensions over which have pitted Beijing against Hanoi.

"Vietnam has proven to be highly pragmatic in fostering early engagements with the Trump administration," said Le Hong Hiep, a Vietnamese research fellow at the Iseas Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. "Vietnamese diplomats have also learned how to play along with Trump's transactional diplomacy."

Typically, heads of state on an official visit to Vietnam will meet the country’s triumvirate of leaders - Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. President Quang will host the formal welcoming ceremony.