The farewell of Vietnamese American Consul General

VietNamNet Bridge - Mr. Le Thanh An, the U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, has ended his 3-year term in Vietnam. Today, August 6, he is leaving Vietnam to return to the United States to receive a new task.

farewell, le thanh an, us, diplomat

Mr. Le Thanh An, his wife and daughter.

In the process of normalizing Vietnam-US relations in the past 18 years ago, the relationship between Vietnam and the United States always have special factors. The presence of Mr. An, as the highest-ranking Vietnamese American diplomat in the U.S. Department of State, working in Vietnam as the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, is understood as a special thing.

Before leaving Vietnam, Mr. An wrote a farewell letter to Vietnamese people. VietNamNet would like to introduce the letter to our readers.

“When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City three short years ago, I was not sure what to expect.  It had been some time since I had been to Ho Chi Minh City, and I knew I would be the first Vietnamese-American to serve as Consul General.  

Upon arrival, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of my reception by the people of this city.  During my time here, I have been particularly grateful for the friends I have made throughout Vietnam, as well as the opportunity I have had to witness and take part in the development of the bilateral relationship between our two countries.

The relationship between the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has experienced remarkable growth.  As President Barack Obama and President Truong Tan Sang declared last week, the United States and Vietnam have now entered a comprehensive partnership, under which our bilateral ties will continue to grow.  

Looking back on my tenure here in Vietnam, I can trace the progress we have made and the work left to do in the areas of education, the economy, concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year, and human rights to further our mutual objective of creating a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.

One of the top priorities of U.S. Mission Vietnam has been to promote higher education as a tool for improving lives and society.  The number of Vietnamese students currently studying in the United States continues to grow, with over 15,500 Vietnamese studying there now.  These students will enhance the future success of Vietnam and our bilateral relations.

Parallel with educational advances, bilateral economic ties have grown tremendously in the past three years.  Last year, trade between the United States and Vietnam totaled $25 billion, and the U.S. remains Vietnam’s largest single market.

Mutual economic goals will be greatly advanced by concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership this year, which the United States, Vietnam, and ten other countries are nearing the final stages of negotiations.  This 21st-century free trade agreement will create a market comprising nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of global trade.

As we work toward further cooperation in the areas of trade, regional and international matters, health, and environmental protection, we must also work together on human rights, the rule of law, and religion...  

During the past three years, I have met thousands of people from all walks of life, and formed the people-to-people ties that make building closer bilateral ties possible. I have officially visited 32 of the 33 provinces in the U.S. Consulate General’s HCM City Consular District.  

My travels have been a fascinating opportunity to gain insights into the life of a country whose re-emergence is a testament to the strength of the Vietnamese people and the importance of Southeast Asia.

I continue to be humbled by the kindness that my wife Tam and I experienced during these visits. As recently noted during President Sang’s visit to the United States, “it’s those people-to-people relations that are the glue that can strengthen the relationship between any two countries.”

Returning to my country of birth, after 45 years, to a city where I lived for the first 10 years of my life, and to serve as the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in HCMC, has been an incredible honor and a privilege. I am proud of the accomplishments of the Consulate team and grateful for the help, support, and cooperation of the Vietnamese people, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, and U.S. Ambassador David Shear.  

I know that the people of Vietnam will extend the same warm hospitality I received to the incoming U.S. Consul General, Ms. Rena Bitter, when she arrives later this month.  

For now, I want to take this opportunity to say a final “kỷ niệm luôn là hành trang quý giá nhất” for making my success here possible, and to say “Chia tay là để gặp lại” to Vietnam, where we have felt so welcomed.

Le Thanh An

farewell, le thanh an, us, diplomat