Vietnam’s first ambassador to US believes in bright future for bilateral ties

Vietnam-US relations now and 25 years ago are “like night and day” and will continue to flourish in the future, according to the first Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, Le Van Bang.

 

In a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency ahead of the 25th anniversary of bilateral ties, Bang, who served as Ambassador to the US from 1995 to 2000, said he witnessed countless difficulties during 20 years (1975-1995) of patient and tireless effort to normalise relations.

 

In 1986, Vietnam began opening itself up to the world and needed the existing US embargo lifted as it took on international integration. US sanctions against Vietnam at that time were like a “boulder” blocking the latter’s path to the world.

 

Thanks to the efforts of both countries, the US lifted its trade embargo on February 3, 1994, and then normalised bilateral relations in July 1995.

 

These moves created opportunities for Vietnam to not only normalise ties with the US but also to connect with all countries around the world. They were also prerequisites for Vietnam obtaining other important diplomatic achievements, like joining ASEAN in 1995 and APEC in 1998, he said, noting that the US’s declaration opened up opportunities for Vietnam to integrate into the world in “a normal manner”.

 

However, apart from the opportunities, the country also encountered many challenges caused by the “Vietnam syndrome” lingering in the US. The two countries still had to resolve issues left over from the war, such as seeking the remains soldiers listed as missing in action during the war and addressing the issue of mixed-race children.

 

Bang recalled that on his first days as Ambassador to the US, one of his main tasks was to change the US people’s thinking about Vietnam and gradually erase the “Vietnam syndrome”. He travelled to many places and engaged in a number of activities to disseminate Vietnam’s message about peace, cooperation, reform, and international integration.

 

Two-way trade shot up over 130-fold in the 25 years, he said, from about 400 million USD in 1994 to nearly 70 billion USD in 2019, and the US has now become the largest importer of Vietnamese goods.

 

The strategic trust between the two countries’ peoples and leaders have been substantially boosted, as seen through mutual high-level visits such as the trips to Vietnam by President Barack Obama in May 2016 and President Donald Trump in November 2017 and February 2019, along with the visits to the US by Party General Secretary Nguyen PhuTrong in July 2015 and Prime Minister Nguyen XuanPhuc in May 2017.

 

Ambassador Bang expressed his belief that bilateral relations will develop “very well” in the future.

 

In particular, since the comprehensive partnership was set up in 2013, Vietnam and the US have enhanced and expanded cooperation in multiple fields, from politics, diplomacy, economy, and investment to defence, security, culture, education, science and technology, settling the war’s consequences, and people-to-people exchanges.

 

They also share the common goals of peace, stability, and development in Southeast Asia and the world at large, he noted, adding that he believes they will continue working on these goals in the time ahead.

 

Source: Vietnam News Agency

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