The historic moment on July 11, 1995 when US President Bill Clinton declared the formal normalisation of diplomatic relations with Vietnam (Photo: vov.vn)
The year 2020 marks 45 years of war’s end and national reunification in Vietnam as well as 25 years of the Vietnam – US relations. Leaving behind mistrust and hatred, the Vietnam – US ties turned the page, and for more than two decades since then, the ties have recorded outstanding cooperation in all fields.
On July 11, 1995, US President Bill Clinton and Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet declared the normalisation of the two nations’ ties, opening a new chapter in the Vietnam – US history. Looking back at the first steps of exploration and doubt, few people would think at that time that the two countries, which were once foes for many decades, would have become comprehensive cooperation partners.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on his visit to Vietnam earlier this year, said that since the formal re-establishment of relations, “we’ve built a friendship on common interests, mutual respect, and bold resolve to overcome the past and look toward the future.”
And he was right; the two countries have made their best efforts to build their relationship, with priority given to promoting trust, and enhancing mutual understanding toward the future, as evidenced by numerous high-level visits of both sides and the establishment of several effective cooperation mechanisms.
On February 27, 2019, at the presidential palace, Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Donald Trump witness the signing of cooperation pacts between the two countries (Photo: VGP).
Since the special first visit by President Clinton in November 2000, there have been at least eight visits by the highest leaders of the two nations, especially the historical visit of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to the US in 2015. The presence of Trong in Washington DC marked a milestone in the mutual respect for each other's political institutions and increased mutual understanding. The two sides have set up partnership across the fields of diplomacy, economy and trade, security, science and technology, education, environment, health, and people-to-people cooperation, including such sensitive issues as human rights, national defence, and the resolution of war aftermath.
Economic and trade cooperation have been a bright spot in bilateral ties for more than two decades. In 2000, the Vietnam-US bilateral trade agreement was signed. Two-way trade turnover rose from 450 million USD to over 60 billion USD in 2018. Vietnam is emerging as one of the largest partners of the US in ASEAN. Meanwhile, the US, with more than 900 projects and total registered capital of up to 9 billion USD, has become the 11th largest investor among countries and territories with direct investment in Vietnam.
Former US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osious stressed the potential shared by the two countries remains tremendous. He said the US wants to become the largest investor and trading partner of Vietnam, which would be on par with the potential of the bilateral relations.
More work has to be done to deepen the ties, he went on, obstacles remains but with political determination, both nations want to overcome them for common benefits.
In 2016, the US Government, for the first time after more than four decades, decided to completely lift its embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam and pledged tens of millions of dollars in support for Vietnam’s defence sector with a focus on improving the local naval capability. The Vietnam – US relations, after over 20 years, have been upgraded to a comprehensive partnership with a range of priorities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the latter’s visit to Vietnam in July 2018 (Photo: vov.vn)
Talking about the relationship, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said: "Thinking forward, Vietnam and the United States have made great efforts to overcome the past and work towards the future. With huge cooperation potential, their ties have transcended the bilateral framework to make increasingly important contributions to peace, cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific and the world. The cooperation has shown that there are more conditions to maintain peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia in particular and Asia-Pacific in general when the Vietnam – US ties grow favourably."
The results of collaboration between Vietnam and the US are creating a new impetus to promote the relations between the one-time enemies. The relationship is based on mutual benefits and for the sake of peace and stability in the region, as affirmed by Pompeo.
“You know, in the past, we were opponents on the battlefield. But today, our security relationship is all about cooperation. […] Look, there are still challenges in our relationship, the fact that we can have honest discussions when we disagree is confirmation of our potential as partners. […] As we celebrate 25 years – a quarter century – of partnership in 2020, let us renew our commitment to a strong and independent Vietnam and a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” said Pompeo in his speech./.
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