Vietnamese and Americans are "getting along as human beings": Obama

By    May 23, 2016 | 11:53 pm PT
Vietnamese and Americans are "getting along as human beings": Obama
U.S president Obama shakes hands with Vietnamese in Hanoi streets yesterday. Photo by VnExpress/ Ba Do.
Vietnamese and American war veterans who "had the courage not only to fight, but, more importantly, had the courage to make peace" have greatly helped to build relations between the two countries, said U.S. President Barack Obama at a lavish state luncheon in Hanoi yesterday.

Following Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang's toast to Obama's first visit to the country as the arrival of a warm spring after a cold winter, Obama cited a Vietnamese saying: “When you eat the fruit, think about the one who planted the tree", to pay respect to all Vietnamese and Americans "who planted and tended the tree that has become our comprehensive partnership".

The President thanked specific individuals including State Secretary John Kerry, also a war veteran, who has been a key player in the bilateral diplomatic relationship.

Obama once met a former North Vietnamese soldier who came up and shook his hand and said: “Without the high-powered politicians, people can just get along as human beings.” 

Over the past 20 years, the Vietnamese and Americans have been following that advice and "getting along as human beings".

"I know that here in Vietnam, you draw inspiration from the lotus flower - hoa sen. It takes root in the mud and thus is a symbol of hope amid hardship. It survives where other flowers cannot, and thus is a symbol of strength and endurance. It radiates color, and is thus a symbol of beauty," said Obama.

"So I'd like to propose a toast - to the spirit of the lotus - in the perseverance and the hopes of the Vietnamese people; in the strength and endurance of the partnership between our two nations; and in the beauty of both of our peoples and the desire to live in peace, dignity and justice," he continued.

He ended his toast in Vietnamese with "Chuc suc khoe!", literally translated as "To our health!".

Optimism surrounding the potential Vietnam – US strategic partnership is riding high as the Obama continues his historic three-day visit to Vietnam.

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