Treaties signed between Vietnam and its partners will never be detrimental to any third party, Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Pham Quang Vinh told his American counterpart on Tuesday.
The ambassador made the statement during a dialogue between him and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. Vietnam provides logistics services for all countries in Cam Ranh Bay, Ambassador Vinh said, adding that the country’s airports and other locations, as well as pacts signed between Vietnam and other nations, will never be harmful to any third party. Regarding the U.S.’s request for Vietnam to stop letting Russian planes refuel in Cam Ranh, which Washington claimed may cause regional tensions, Ambassador Vinh said his country has not yet had information on the matter and will discuss with U.S. officials so that the two sides can understand each other.Reuters reported on March 11 that the United States had asked Vietnam to stop allowing Russia to use Cam Ranh to refuel nuclear-capable bombers. The British news agency cited U.S. officials as saying that such bombers were engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region, exposing strains in Washington's steadily warming relations with Hanoi. It quoted a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that Washington respected Hanoi's right to enter agreements with other countries.Reuters then cited the official as adding: "We have urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region." Ambassador Vinh affirmed that Vietnam pursues an independent external polices and maintains friendly cooperation with all countries in the world. He emphasized that his nation never establishes relations with a country to harm another.
Ambassador Osius said the U.S. respects agreements Vietnam has signed with other countries. He added that the U.S. understands and respects Vietnam’s traditional relations. He, however, noted that Russia should not use the agreements signed with Vietnam to take part in actions that can trigger regional tensions. Regarding the Vietnam-U.S. defense relationship, Ambassador Vinh said in addition to general security and defense cooperation, both sides are also interested in non-traditional security cooperation including disaster relief, responses to climate change, and anti-terrorism. The cooperation between the two countries in such fields is made at the bilateral, regional, and international levels. With respect to trade of weapons, Ambassador Vinh expressed his hope that the U.S. will fully lift its ban on the sale of lethal arms to Vietnam. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S., so the two sides should normalize all fields, including the full lifting of the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam, Ambassador Vinh said. Ambassador Osius confirmed that the two countries have yet to sign any contract on sales of weapons, although the time being is very advantageous for such deals. He said Vietnam has many traditional partners in this field and the U.S. is just a new partner of the Southeast Asia nation. Therefore, he added, the sale and transfer of such arms to Vietnam cannot take place soon, but it requires a step-by-step process.