|US President Barack Obama welcomes Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during what is viewed by both sides as a historic visit in the relationship between the two nations. Obama expressed his hope for stronger bilateral ties during their talks. — VNA/VNS Photo Tri Dung
WASHINGTON (VNS) — The President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the Party General Secretary of Viet Nam, Nguyen Phu Trong, on Tuesday had talks at the White House at a meeting described as "a historic visit in the relationship of the two nations".
The two sides had wide-ranging talks that were "constructive, straightforward and sincere" on issues such as sovereignty, the East Sea, Trans Pacific Trade, and human rights.
The President later told the press that in the 20th century, there were painful chapters in the history of the two countries, adding that there were also differences over political philosophy and systems.
"But," he added, "US and Vietnamese leaders have worked together for the sake of the people's interest and happiness and have achieved positive outcomes in many fields."
President Obama said he believed the differences between the two sides in some areas would be solved through diplomatic efforts not only in a bilateral framework, but also via multilateral channels and co-operation with ASEAN.
Trong replied that 20 years ago, no one would think that a meeting would take place between the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and the US President at the White House's Oval Office.
From being former enemies, Viet Nam and the US had become friends and then comprehensive partners, Trong said, adding that relations would grow further, thanks to the strategic vision of leaders of both countries and the support of the people.
Trong said that despite the sad chapters in history, the two countries had built relations to a comprehensive partnership today in the spirit of leaving the past behind, overcoming differences, building on similarities and looking toward the future.
He said history could not be changed, but the future was "our responsibility", adding that at the talks, the two sides had extensive and in-depth discussions on a better relationship and comprehensive development in all fields on the basis of mutual respect and in accordance with international law.
During their talks at the Oval Office Obama said the US attached special importance to its relations with Viet Nam and its role in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trong said Viet Nam had a consistent and long-term policy of treasuring the development of relations with the US.
He said that by respecting each other's independence, sovereignty and political regime without interference, foundations had been built on trust and taken bilateral ties to a new level.
The two leaders said robust development in their friendship and co-operation in putting the past behind, had overcome differences and promoted similarities.
This orientation was in line with the two peoples' interests as well as peace, stability and prosperous development in the region and the world.
They put emphasis on increasing high-level exchanges and contacts, expanding consultations on mutual issues, promoting economic-trade and investment co-operation as a cornerstone and driving force for bilateral relations.
The relationship also involved bolstering scientific, educational, medical and environmental collaboration, re-inforcing partnerships in defence and security, including the implementation of a Joint Vision Statement on Defence Relations.
The two leaders also concurred on enhancing people-to-people exchanges and co-operation in humanitarian activities and settling matters left over from war, while continuing to contribute to global peace, security, stability and sustainable development, including co-operation on terrorism, cyber security, and coping with epidemics and climate change.
They also hailed positive progress attained during negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. They both underlined the importance of the pact to regional development along with its major contributions to global growth and stability.
Both Obama and Trong held that the TPP needed to take into account the development level of negotiating members and respect their political and cultural differences. They said this would create momentum for fostering co-operation between the US and the Asia-Pacific region.
The two leaders had open discussions on human rights issues. President Obama said he hoped that the two countries would continue dialogues and enhance co-operation in this field. Trong said that the full guarantee of human rights was a top priority in Viet Nam. He said the country was willing to continue holding talks with the US on the issue.
|Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (third right) meets with US Senator John McCain (first left) yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Tri Dung.
The two sides also exchanged opinions on regional and international issues of mutual concerns. They agreed that the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea was in the common interests and responsibility of the regional and international community.
They both supported the principle of resolving disputes through peaceful means on the basis of respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), strictly and fully implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and working towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct on the East Sea (COC), without using or threatening to use force or making acts to further complicate the situation in the East Sea.
Regarding US-ASEAN relations, Trong said Viet Nam supported the elevation of US-ASEAN ties to Strategic Partnership. He said he would work with the US and other countries to promote the central role of ASEAN and ensure the efficiency of such forums as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+), the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in maintaining peace and security as well as in dealing with political and economic issues in the region.
Trong added that he hoped the US would continue to support and co-ordinate with Viet Nam for the successful organisation of the APEC Summit in Viet Nam in 2017.
Trong invited President Obama to visit Viet Nam and he accepted with pleasure.
Following the talks, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Obama issued a Joint Declaration on Vision of the Viet Nam-US Relationship.
For the full text of the Viet Nam – United States joint-vision statement adopted on Tuesday, please visit Viet Nam News website vietnamnews.vn.
Party General Secretary Trong attended a banquet hosted by the US Vice President Joe Biden in Washington DC on Tuesday (local time), which was arranged immedately after the talks between Vietnamese party leader and US President Barack Obama.
During the event, Biden voiced that frank, open and substantive discussions between the leaders helped define future orientations for enhnacing Viet Nam-US relations.
Life in harmony
During a meeting with US religious dignitaries on Tuesday, Party General Secretary Trong said Vietnamese people live in harmony without religious or ethnic conflict.
Viet Nam has various religions and 54 ethnic groups. Since 1975, the number of religious people has risen 2.5 times to 24 million.
The number of religious dignitaries has increased by 2.7 times, and numerous worship facilities have been built. Furthermore, nearly all Vietnamese families worship their ancestors, he said.
The Constitution and law of Viet Nam grant all people the right to follow or not follow any religion, Trong said.
He welcomed the dignitaries to visit Viet Nam to enhance their understanding of the reality in the country.
David Saperstein, US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and Robert Seiple, the first US ambassador for religious freedom, highlighted the significance of the Vietnamese Party leader's visit in fostering friendship between the two nations.
They said many delegates have been to Viet Nam and eyed the country's development and religious freedom.
Delegates at the meeting held that as Viet Nam and the US are in the process of reconciliation, work remains to be done on restoring harmony between the nations. They believed that with the foundations laid by both countries over the past years, the two sides can expect a bright future.
On the occasion, many US religious dignitaries also sent messages greeting the Vietnamese Party chief.
Also on Tuesday, Trong met with crowds of Vietnamese expats and Americans during his ongoing visit to the US. He highlighted the 20 years of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the US and the establishment of a comprehensive partnership.
He thanked Americans for their support, saying Viet Nam wished to develop a fruitful co-operative relationship with the US.
He also attached significance to cultural exchange and co-operation in enhancing mutual understanding. There was also huge potential for co-operating to maintain peace and security in line with the UN Charter and international law.
Other fields for mutual collaboration between Viet Nam and the US include sustainable development, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, infectious disease prevention and control, poverty reduction and equal trade promotion.
He said there was room for mutual dialogue and co-operation in ensuring human rights, gender equality and rights for ethnic minority and vulnerable groups.
Participants hoped that Viet Nam and the US would put aside their differences and move on from the past to promote a better future for their mutual benefit and development.
US senator John McCain welcomed the official visit by Party General Secretary Trong yesterday – the first visit by a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam to the US.
The visit demonstrated the growing stature of the Viet Nam-US partnership as the two countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of the normalisation of bilateral ties, the senator said.
"Viet Nam is an important emerging partner with whom the United States shares strategic and economic interests, including the acceleration of an open regional trade order, the maintenance of the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, and the global long-term order principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful settlements of international disputes," McCain said.
The senator said the progress the two countries had achieved over the past 20 years was remarkable, and that the US and Viet Nam were in a position to continue those achievements. The US senator also praised Viet Nam for recent encouraging steps to improve its human rights record.
Stating that the US and Viet Nam shared a profound commitment towards peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, McCain said the US should continue loosening the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Viet Nam.
"The past 20 years have witnessed remarkable developments in the relationship between the two countries, which is more than what anyone could have expected. I wanted to meet the Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong this week because our two countries want to continue developing a relationship which has been built on a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region."
During his meeting with McCain, Trong hailed the US senator's support and significant contributions to eradicating the US embargo and normalising relations with Viet Nam.
Trong said that bilateral relations were on the right track and developing in all fields and contributing to peace, co-operation and development in the region and the world, especially given complicated regional circumstances.
Also yesterday, the Vietnamese leader held talks with members of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Agreements and arrangements
The following agreements and arrangements foster development of United States-Viet Nam relations and form a firm foundation for future co-operation, such as:
– The Agreement between the Government of Viet Nam and the government of the US for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income (DTA) and the Protocol to the DTA;
– The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of National Defence of Viet Nam and the Department of Defence of the US on United Nations peacekeeping co-operation;
– The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam and the United States Agency for International Development regarding the Emerging Pandemic Threats Programme and the Global Health Security Agenda;
– The Grant Agreement between the US Trade and Development Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam; and
– Viet Nam's granting of a licence for a Fulbright University Viet Nam. — VNS