|US Ambassador Ted Osius speaks to about 500 students about US-Viet Nam relations at the Viet Nam National University yesterday. — Photo vienamnet.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The United States and Viet Nam has made remarkable progress in bilateral relations in only 20 years, and are laying strong foundations for their future growth, US Ambassador Ted Osius said yesterday.
He was speaking to about 500 students about US-Viet Nam relations at the Viet Nam National University (VNU), where he joined a tree-planting ceremony.
The event is one of many being held this year to mark the 20th year of US-Viet Nam diplomatic relations and the event is among anniversary activities.
Their Comprehensive Partnership was signed in 2013 by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and US President Barack Obama. It identified a broad and strategic list of areas that the two nations should co-operate and work together towards ensuring peace, stability, co-operation, and prosperity, he said.
He said the US visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong later this year would help move the Comprehensive Partnership forward.
Weighing in on the East Sea situation, he said: "We believe territorial disputes must be dealt with peacefully, diplomatically and in accordance with international law.
"We call for the exercise of self-restraint by all claimants – particularly in terms of large-scale reclamation activities to transform rocks and shoals into outposts that could easily be militarised.
"We support efforts by ASEAN and China towards an early conclusion of a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea through which half of the world's sea cargo flows."
Talking about bilateral trade, he said the United States and Viet Nam did about $35 billion dollars in trade annually, or more than a seven fold increase in the last 20 years.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, one of President Obama's top priorities, would be an enormous opportunity for Viet Nam as barriers fall, he said.
"It represents the next logical step in Viet Nam's integration into the global economy."
The Fulbright Programme would transition to a full-fledged institution known as Fulbright University Viet Nam (FUV), Osius announced.
He said it would be Viet Nam's first private, not for profit university, creating a transparently run, academic meritocracy and a platform for thoughtful policy recommendations.
The US has recently announced major new funding for higher education partnerships and continued to expand alumni networks across Viet Nam and help improve English language teaching capabilities.
He encouraged more Vietnamese students to consider study opportunities in the US , noting that Viet Nam still ranked first in Southeast Asia in the number of international students studying in the US.
The US has spent nearly US$700 million to fight HIV/AIDS through President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Viet Nam.
Viet Nam is also a focus country in the President's Global Health Security Agenda, according to Osius.
"After Viet Nam successfully weathered SARS and avian flu, we are helping you prepare for the epidemics that will come," he said.
The US would strive for steady progress in all five priority areas identified for defence co-operation: maritime security, high level dialogues, search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping operations, the ambassador said.
Osius expressed his hope that US-Viet Nam relations in the next 20 years would be upgraded in various fields.
He said the US would work with Viet Nam to develop a space programme to boost telecommunication capabilities, monitor the impacts of climate change, increase maritime domain awareness and assist with disaster prediction.
It would also help Viet Nam in its fight against tuberculosis and malaria, he said.
Osius also said he hoped that the US would become Viet Nam's No.1 investor, as it is in ASEAN as a whole. Viet Nam should reform its visa regulations to make it easier to do business in the country, he said. — VNS