|US Vice President speaks to the press during a briefing on the visit to Việt Nam in Hà Nội on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The issues of the COVID-19 crisis, economy and trade, climate change response as well as the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific were high on the agenda during the historic trip of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Hà Nội.
In a press briefing held on Thursday in Việt Nam’s capital city, Harris said she is honoured to be the first vice president to visit Việt Nam since diplomatic relations were established in 1995, and expressed the belief that “this signals the beginning of the next chapter in the relationship between the United States and Việt Nam.”
“We have had an enduring commitment to this relationship, because it matters to the people, to the security and to the prosperity of the American people, and we believe, the people of Việt Nam.”
She remarked the trajectory of bilateral ties since normalisation “has been nothing short of remarkable, when we think about where we've been, where we are and where are headed.”
As Việt Nam is currently battling a huge wave of COVID-19 infections with rising cases and deaths after successfully containing the outbreaks in 2020, Harris said the US will be with Việt Nam as it battles this surge and has provided donations of vaccines and freezers to Việt Nam.
She earlier in the day visited the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hà Nội to witness the delivery of parts of the 1 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the US donated to Việt Nam that she announced on Wednesday during a meeting with Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính.
In the remarks, she also noted how the two countries have strengthened economic ties during the pandemic.
“During our meetings with the officials and leaders here in Việt Nam, I advocated for a reduction of tariffs on American agricultural goods and there was a positive reaction, and we’re looking forward to following up on that conversation.”
The US has also launched initiatives that will help Việt Nam transition to a more digital economy and help grow women- and ethnic minority-owned businesses, she said.
Addressing the climate crisis and green transition were also items of much discussion.
The United States welcomed Việt Nam joining the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), an initiative announced at President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate that will be launched at COP-26 in November 2021.
The US official said she has had “extensive conversations” with PM Chính regarding this smart agriculture initiative, saying that the Vietnamese leader is interested in what the US is doing with satellite technologies to help farmers predict weather cycles.
Harris said that throughout the trip to Southeast Asia, she has reaffirmed “the commitment that the US has to our common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The US will continue to have high-level security cooperation in support of a strong, prosperous and independent Việt Nam, she said, adding that the country will continue to work with Việt Nam to “push back against threats to freedom of navigation and the rule-based international order.”
She said both the US and Vietnamese leaders placed high priority on freedom of navigation not only as a security but also as a commerce issue.
“The US intends to strengthen our participation and partnership with partners and allies, in a way that is collaborative to meet the challenges of the moment and of the future together,” she said, whether it’s Việt Nam, Singapore, Southeast Asia or the Indo Pacific.
She also noted how during the visit and meetings with officials and different organisations in Việt Nam, there is still so much potential in this region “when we have the ambition to achieve what is possible, around common interests and common goals.”
“We know it matters deeply to the well-being of the American people that we maintain and strengthen these partnerships, and that's why in the years ahead we will be coming back time and time again, as we follow through and chart this next chapter in the partnership in the relationship we have with the spirit of understanding that it is mutually beneficial and that there is much that we can do together,” Harris said. — VNS