WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 25, 2013) — President Barack Obama welcomed President Truong Tan Sang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the White House on July 25, 2013.
During their meeting, the two Presidents affirmed their commitment to opening a new phase of bilateral relations between Vietnam and the United States based on mutual respect and common interests. President Truong Tan Sang’s visit comes at an important time for both nations, reflecting a shared desire to build a forward-looking relationship between the two countries.
President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang decided to form a U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership to provide an overarching framework for advancing the relationship. They underlined the principles of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, including respect for the United Nations Charter, international law, and each other’s political systems, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
They stated that the Comprehensive Partnership is intended to contribute to peace, stability, cooperation, and prosperity in each country, in the region, and in the world. The new Comprehensive Partnership will create mechanisms for cooperation in areas including political and diplomatic relations, trade and economic ties, science and technology, education and training, environment and health, war legacy issues, defense and security, protection and promotion of human rights, and culture, sports, and tourism.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is my pleasure to welcome President Truong Tan Sang to the White House and to the Oval Office for his first bilateral meeting with me. This represents the steady progression and strengthening of the relationship between our two countries.
Obviously, we all recognize the extraordinarily complex history between the United States and Vietnam. Step by step, what we have been able to establish is a degree of mutual respect and trust that has allowed us now to announce a comprehensive partnership between our two countries that will allow even greater cooperation on a whole range of issues from trade and commerce to military-to-military cooperation, to multilateral work on issues like disaster relief, to scientific and educational exchanges.
What we’ve also discussed is the ways in which through the Trans-Pacific Partnership — or TPP — both the United States and Vietnam are participating in what will be an extraordinarily ambitious effort to increase trade, commerce and transparency in terms of commercial relationships throughout the Asia Pacific region. And we’re committed to the ambitious goal of completing this agreement before the end of the year because we know that this can create jobs and increase investment across the region and in both our countries.
We discussed the need for continued efforts to resolve peacefully maritime issues that have surfaced in the South China Sea and other parts of the Asia Pacific region. And we very much appreciate Vietnam’s commitment to working with ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in order for us to arrive at Codes of Conduct that will help to resolve these issues peacefully and fairly.
We discussed the challenges that all of us face when it comes to issues of human rights, and we emphasized how the United States continues to believe that all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. And we had a very candid conversation about both the progress that Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain.
We both reaffirmed the efforts that have been made to deal with war legacy issues. We very much appreciate Vietnam’s continued cooperation as we try to recover our Missing in Action and those that were lost during the course of the war. And I reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to work with Vietnam around some of the environmental and health issues that have continued, decades later, because of the war.
Finally, we agreed that one of the great sources of strength between our two countries is the Vietnamese American population that is here but obviously has continued strong ties to Vietnam. And ultimately, it’s those people-to-people relations that are the glue that can strengthen the relationship between any two countries.
So I just want to say to President Sang how much I appreciate his visit. I think it signifies the maturing and the next stage of the development between the United States and Vietnam. As we increase consultation, increase cooperation, increase trade, and scientific and education exchanges, ultimately, that’s going to be good for the prosperity and opportunities of the people here in the United States, as well as good for the opportunities and prosperity of the people of Vietnam.
At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it’s 67 years later, it’s good that we’re still making progress.
Thank you very much for your visit. And I look forward to continued work together.
PRESIDENT SANG: (As interpreted.) Once again, I would like to thank you, President Obama, for your kind invitation extended to me to visit the United States as well as the warm hospitality that you have extended to me over the past couple of days while I’m here in the U.S.
To be frank, President Obama and I had a very candid, open, useful and constructive discussion. Given the progress of our bilateral relationship over the past 18 years, it is time now to form a comprehensive partnership in order to further strengthen our relations in various areas.
We discussed various matters, including political relations, science and technology, education, defense, the legacy of the war issue, environment, the Vietnamese-American community, human rights as well — and the East Sea as well.
In a candid, open and constructive spirit, we have come to agree on many issues. We will strengthen high-level exchanges between the two countries. We will consider in order to continue our — to upgrade the mechanism of cooperation at the high level, as well as take the best use of the existing mechanism of cooperation. Particularly, we will continue regular dialogue at the highest level as possible. I believe that this is the way in order to build a political trust for further development of our cooperation in all areas.
Economic and trade relation continue to be important to our relations. As far as TPP is concerned, the Vietnamese side will do its upmost in order to participate in the process of negotiations for the conclusion of TPP by the end of this year.
We also discussed in detail our cooperation in science and technology, in education and training, as well as security and defense. We also touched upon the war legacy issue, including human rights, which we still remain — which we still have differences on the issue.
I also expressed my appreciation for the care that the U.S. has extended to the Vietnamese who came to settle in the United States and now they have become American citizens and contributing to the overall development of the U.S. And thanks to the support and assistance from the U.S. government as well as the American people, the Vietnamese-American community here in the U.S. has become more and more prosperous and successful in their life as well as work.
And I also would like to take this opportunity to convey a message from our government to the Vietnamese-American community here in the U.S. that we would like to see you contributing more and more to the friendship between our two countries as well as further development of our relationship in the future.
We also discussed in detail the issue of the East Sea. We appreciate and welcome the U.S. support for our stance in this matter, as well as the stance of ASEAN related to this particular matter, and we appreciate the U.S. support to solving the matter by peaceful means in accordance with international law, DOC, and moving toward COC. We welcome the United States’ support as well as other countries’ support in the matter in order to ensure peace, stability, prosperity not only in the East Sea but also in the Asia Pacific and the world at large.
Last but not least, I also, on behalf of our government and our state, to extend to President Obama our invitation to visit Vietnam. And President Obama has accepted our invitation and will try his best to pay a visit to Vietnam during his term.
And, once again, I would like to thank President Obama and all of the American people for their warm hospitality extended to me during this trip to the United States. And I believe that our cooperation will continue to strengthen for the mutual interest and benefit of our people.
Political and Diplomatic Cooperation
As part of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, the two sides agreed to increase high level exchanges as well as contacts at all levels, and to intensify dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. President Obama affirmed the United States’ support for Vietnam’s independence, sovereignty, prosperity, and integration into the international community. President Truong Tan Sang welcomed the United States’ enhanced cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, which contributes to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region.
The Presidents welcomed the establishment of a regular dialogue between their two foreign ministers, and encouraged dialogues and exchanges between entities associated with political parties in both countries.
President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang agreed to enhance cooperation at regional and international forums including The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus (ADMM+) to support peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the Asia-Pacific region. The two Leaders reaffirmed their support for the settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea . The Presidents also reaffirmed their support for the principle of non-use of force or threat-of-force in resolving territorial and maritime disputes. The Presidents underscored the value of full observance of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the importance of launching negotiations to conclude an effective Code of Conduct (COC).
President Truong Tan Sang expressed his appreciation for the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). The two Presidents agreed that the two sides would work together with other member countries and the Friends of the Lower Mekong to further strengthen regional cooperation to promote prosperity and sustainable development, narrow the development gap, enhance connectivity, and respond to transnational challenges in the region.
The two Presidents instructed relevant agencies to conclude as soon as possible a bilateral agreement on the construction of new embassies and missions. The Leaders affirmed that the United States’ and Vietnam’s diplomatic presence in their respective capitals should reflect the development of their bilateral ties.
Trade and Economic Ties
Recalling their discussions in Cambodia in November 2012, President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang reaffirmed their commitment to conclude a comprehensive, high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as soon as possible this year. A 21st-century TPP agreement will advance regional economic integration, further development objectives, and lead to the creation of jobs in the United States, Vietnam, and all TPP countries, while taking into account the diversity of the participants’ levels of development in the context of a comprehensive and balanced package.
The Presidents welcomed continued efforts to further bilateral economic, commercial, and investment ties, and President Obama noted Vietnam’s reform efforts as a developing economy. They underlined the critical value of these efforts to advancing the bilateral relationship, and the importance of economic cooperation as a foundation and engine for the new U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership. The Presidents agreed to enhance cooperation under the U.S.-Vietnam Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council as well as under the ASEAN Enhanced Economic Engagement initiative and in APEC to increase economic and trade engagement in line with the bilateral Comprehensive Partnership and shared objectives in the World Trade Organization (WTO), APEC, and ASEAN fora. President Obama applauded Vietnam’s progress in economic reform President Obama noted Vietnam’s interest in pursuing market economy country status and is committed to intensifying the United States’ constructive engagement with Vietnam on its economic reforms. The Presidents acknowledged Vietnam’s intention to accede to the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (CTC).
Both Presidents noted the importance of growing commercial ties between the two economies, and made special mention of: the MOU signed between PetroVietnam and U.S. Export-Import Bank to support trade and investment in the petroleum and energy sectors in Vietnam; the Framework Heads Agreement on the Ca Voi Xanh offshore Vietnam development project between Exxon Mobil Corporation and PetroVietnam; the Cooperation Agreement between Murphy Oil Corporation and PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP); an MOU between Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) and Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV); and the Vietnam Ministry of Finance’s approval in principle for establishment of a fund management company by ACE Insurance. The Presidents welcomed U.S. Department of Agriculture support for capacity building and training programs designed to help Vietnam adopt and apply sound science and technology to the benefit of Vietnamese farmers, agricultural companies, and consumers. The two leaders recognized the importance of protecting the most vulnerable populations while pursuing economic development, including working together to combat child and forced labor.
Science and Technology Cooperation
President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang discussed the importance of scientific and technological cooperation. They welcomed the 8th meeting of the Joint Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation to be held this autumn, and highlighted efforts to build ties between the scientific communities in the United States and Vietnam to strengthen bilateral relations, respond to climate change and other global challenges, and foster innovation-driven economic growth. President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang reiterated their intention to continue scientific cooperation, including in the areas of civil nuclear energy, space technology, and maritime research. The Presidents highlighted the successful conclusion of a joint effort to remove all highly enriched uranium from Vietnam. The two leaders agreed to continue cooperation to support Vietnam’s aspirations for a peaceful nuclear energy program with the highest standards of safety, safeguards, and security.
The Presidents agreed on the need to enhance educational, cultural, and people-to-people ties between the United States and Vietnam. They remarked on the rapid growth of Vietnamese students studying at U.S. universities and colleges, and expressed hope that more U.S. students will pursue study abroad opportunities in Vietnam. They agreed that close cooperation on education and training are critical elements to the next phase of the relationship. They also noted that robust English language instruction will help Vietnam compete in the 21st century global economy.
President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang noted the success of bilateral education and exchange initiatives, especially the Fulbright program and the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP). The two Presidents noted the success of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program and President Truong Tan Sang welcomed the initiative establishing a Fulbright University in Vietnam.
Environment and Health
President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang welcomed increasing bilateral cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Vietnam through promotion of clean energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable forestry, and to strengthen Vietnam’s resilience to climate change, rising sea level and natural disasters, including through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Clean Energy Program and Forests and Deltas Program. President Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to providing further medical and other care and assistance for persons with disabilities, regardless of cause.
The two leaders also agreed to work together, along with their LMI partners, to promote scientific research, capacity-building, and dialogue to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the Mekong Delta and the Lower Mekong River Basin. President Obama expressed appreciation for Vietnam’s leadership as the co-chair of the LMI Environment and Water Pillar, which has included two joint research proposals from Vietnam on water resources management in the basin. The two leaders expressed satisfaction with the recent conclusion of the Agreement on Healthcare and Medical Sciences Cooperation and looked forward to enhanced public health cooperation to promote global health security. President Truong Tan Sang expressed his appreciation for the U.S. government’s continued support through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for Vietnam’s efforts to build sustainable systems for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.
War Legacy Issues
The two Presidents agreed that extensive cooperation in addressing war legacy issues to deepen mutual trust has allowed both countries to develop a relationship that looks to the future. President Obama expressed his appreciation for Vietnam’s continued cooperation in providing for the fullest possible accounting for U.S. personnel missing in action (MIA). President Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to assist Vietnam in its MIA accounting efforts. President Truong Tan Sang noted the U.S. Government’s contributions to Vietnam’s efforts to clean up unexploded ordnance (UXO), assist those injured by UXO, and prevent future casualties. The Presidents expressed satisfaction with progress on USAID and the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense’s project to clean up dioxin contamination at Danang International Airport. President Truong Tan Sang welcomed plans by the U.S. Government to conduct an environmental assessment of dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Air Base.
Defense and Security
The two leaders agreed that the United States and Vietnam would continue to cooperate on defense and security. They expressed satisfaction with the Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation of 2011 and reaffirmed their commitment to its full implementation. The Presidents agreed to continue the U.S.-Vietnam Defense Policy Dialogue and the bilateral Political, Security, and Defense dialogue as opportunities to review the defense and security relationship and discuss future cooperation. The two Presidents agreed to expand mutually beneficial cooperation to enhance capabilities such as search and rescue and disaster response. The Presidents also underscored the importance of enhanced cooperation in non-traditional security matters and agreed to work more closely to counter terrorism; enhance maritime law enforcement cooperation; combat transnational crime including piracy, and narcotics, human, and wildlife trafficking; and address high-tech crime and cyber security. President Obama welcomed Vietnam’s decision to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations and emphasized the United States’ desire to assist with training and other support for this effort through the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
The Presidents took note of the benefits of a candid and open dialogue to enhance mutual understanding and narrow differences on human rights. They emphasized the importance of protection and promotion of human rights. President Truong Tan Sang informed President Obama of Vietnam’s efforts and achievements in promoting human rights and rule of law and in protecting the rights of religious believers. President Truong Tan Sang also affirmed that Vietnam was prepared to sign the United Nations Convention Against Torture by the end of the year and stated that Vietnam would invite the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2014. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Culture, Tourism and Sports
President Truong Tan Sang and President Obama highlighted the importance of enhanced cooperation on culture, sports and tourism to strengthening people-to-people exchange and mutual understanding. They took note of the success of the Vietnamese-American community in the United States and their important contributions to the growth of bilateral ties. The two Presidents encouraged more people-to-people exchange through art performances, concerts, exhibitions and other cultural and sports events between the two countries.