|US ambassador to Viet Nam Ted Osius speaks at the conference. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vi
HCM CITY (VNS) — Besides business interests and politics, efforts to mitigate the consequences of the war on Viet Nam are also bringing the country closer to the US, an international event heard in HCM City yesterday.
Speaking at the conference entitled "20 Years of US – Viet Nam Relations: Business & Education Opportunities in Light of TPP," Thao Griffiths of the Viet Nam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) said it took 20 years (1975-1995) for the two countries to change from enemies to friends, and another 20 to heal wounds and build a foundation for a partnership.
"With concerted efforts, individuals such as Bobby Muller of VVAF and Dr Charles Bailey of the Ford Foundation were able to work effectively with eminent people on the Vietnamese side such as Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Ambassador Bui The Giang, Dr Le Ke Son.
"Together they helped the governments of both the US and Viet Nam move closer. The war legacy issues such as Agent Orange, unexploded bombs were for years issues that divided us, but are now issues that are bringing us together.
Le Chi Dung, deputy director general of the America desk at Viet Nam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that one way to ensure Viet Nam-US relations develop steadily is for the US to intensify humanitarian aid to Viet Nam, helping heal the wounds caused by the war.
Dung said another way to strengthen Viet Nam-US relations is by stepping up co-operation in areas like security, defence, science and technology, and the environment.
The US could also increase investment in Viet Nam to become the country's biggest investor, and help Viet Nam train its workforce, he added.
Bui The Giang, director general of the West Europe and North America department at the External Relations Commission of the Communist Party Central Committee, said certain efforts are needed to deepen the bilateral partnership.
Firstly, there should be frequent senior-level exchanges since they are highly productive not only in terms of ironing out potential issues through face-to-face discussions between top leaders, but also in cultivating personal contacts – something that US Vice President Joe Biden emphasised during his luncheon toast to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the White House last July – he said.
"These exchanges are even more essential given the inherent differences between our political and ideological systems which are likely to expose our relations to the risk of someone fishing in troubled waters.
ASEAN – US engagement should be enhanced on the one hand to ensure ASEAN's centrality in the existing and possible future architectures in the region and on the other to solidify intra-ASEAN unity as well as improve the ASEAN Community's effectiveness and performance, he said.
Thirdly, it is necessary to look at and treat the Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP) not simply as a trade and economic instrument, and a political vision is needed, he said.
Before the lifting of the US economic and trade embargo, Viet Nam exported nothing to that country and its imports were a meager US$7 million, Giang said. According to AmCham estimates last year Viet Nam's exports to the US could have been as high as $38.3 billion, and imports, $6.7 billion, he said.
The conference was organised by the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and Viet Nam's Centre for Strategic and International Development. — VNS