The U.S.-Vietnam relationship has been flourishing over the past 25 years, whether it was President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama or President Trump, and it is going to stay healthy and excellent, regardless of the winner of the current presidential election, said United States National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
The official ended his two-day official visit to Vietnam on Sunday with a meeting with students of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) at the Government Guest House in Hanoi.
Might doesn’t make right
Speaking to more than 100 DAV students and professors, O’Brien highlighted the two countries’ cooperation over the past 25 years.
Starting by trust and understanding, both sides have overcome war aftermaths and been able to set up a comprehensive partnership.
The U.S. senior official said the two countries have been joining hands to recover the remains of servicemen killed and missing in action, remove mines, promote maritime security, and now fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Brien said the U.S. highly appreciated the partnership with Vietnam and their cooperation in responding to strategic concerns, including maintaining peace and sustainability in the East Vietnam Sea and the Mekong Delta region.
This region has no interest in returning to an imperial era, in which 'might makes right' was a common belief, he underscored.
This is why Washington has taken a firm stance against bullying coercion in the East Vietnam Sea and growing security threats in the Mekong Delta region, he stated.
O’Brien also emphasized that the U.S.-Vietnam ties have been built on mutual interests and respect for each other’s freedom, independence, and sovereignty.
“We respect your patriotism, your vision, your determination, and your passion for an independent and truly sovereign nation that is not subservient to another,” O'Brien stated.
“We are deeply invested in a strong and prosperous Vietnam at the center of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
"We look forward to accomplishing great things with you in the future."
O’Brien said once the U.S. and Vietnam successfully push back the COVID-19 pandemic, economic cooperation would play a vital role in the two countries’ ties.
“The United States stands ready to help boost Vietnam’s economy," the national security adviser said.
"In turn, we want Vietnam to buy more of America’s terrific products and host more American companies in your country.”
He added the two countries are making effort to balance a trade deficit, preventing it from affecting their relations.
The adviser said the U.S.-Vietnam relation was multifaceted, beyond the trade area.
“We're mature countries. And we understand that our interests are far broader than a narrow issue of trade,” he said.
Responding to DAV student Nguyen Ha My, O’Brien said the position of Vietnam in the region and the world has been improved, reflected by the country’s role as the key partner of QUAD including the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India.
“Vietnam is big. Vietnamese people are hard-working and they're smart. And they're pretty tough as we found out. So we think that Vietnam plays a critically important role in the security architecture of the free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The Trump administration's official said the defense relationship would be one of the bedrocks of the U.S.-Vietnam relations in the coming 25 years, as he mentioned meetings with leaders of ministries of public security, defense and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last Saturday.
“What we're trying to do is to strengthen the Coast Guard in Vietnam so that Vietnam can protect its exclusive economic zone in the [East Vietnam Sea], and protect its resources, its oil and gas and minerals," he told the press at the Government Guest House.
"So, one of the things we've been able to do is transfer very high quality, large Coast Guard cutters called Hamilton-class cutters to Vietnam.”
O’Brien said the U.S. would continue looking for collaboration opportunities between navy and air forces of the two sides as well as transferring platforms, warships, and coast guard ships, “so that Vietnam can defend itself."
The U.S. senior official also stated that he did not mean to offend China and called on China to follow international rules and respect its neighbours.
“The United States wants a terrific relationship with China like we do with Vietnam,” he said.
“When we talk about sovereignty, it doesn't affect us directly, but it surely affects Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and India. So you know that'll be the biggest challenge that we face over the coming 25 years."
O’Brien said there was a consensus in U.S. Congress and the American people in terms of relationship with China and predicted that policies over the issue in the coming four years would not be totally dissimilar to that in place in the past four years.