President Sang leaves for US

VietNamNet Bridge – President Truong Tan Sang and his entourage left Ha Noi yesterday, July 23, for the US, aiming to reach agreement on a new framework for bilateral ties during their visit.

Viet Nam, US, high-level delegations, human rights, religious freedom

President Truong Tan Sang Sang is welcomed by Vietnamese overseas people at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C.

The visit, which will last from July 24-26, is being made at the invitation of President Barack Obama.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong has called for a new framework on the Viet Nam-US partnership to be agreed upon during Sang's visit.

"Nearly one decade has passed since the two nations established the current framework of constructive, friendly partnership and multi-faceted co-operation on the basis of equality, mutual respect and benefit," the ambassador said during a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency.

"In light of the strong relations we now share and the potential to strengthen them further, it is time to define a new bilateral partnership framework."

The diplomat said he hoped presidents Sang and Obama would discuss the issue and come to an agreement.

He noted Sang's trip would be only the second official visit made by a Vietnamese head of State in nearly two decades since the normalisation of ties with the US, and the first exchange of high-level delegations in five years.

The visit comes at a time when the two nations are diversifying their relations in the drive for development.

Cuong added that the visit was a result of Viet Nam's foreign policy of independence, self-control, multi-lateralisation and diversification of international relations, affirming the country is a friend and trustworthy partner in the international community.

In addition to talks with US President Barack Obama, Sang will also work with Congress leaders and meet politicians, business figures, scholars, leaders of international organisations and Vietnamese expatriates in the US.

During the meetings, Vietnamese and US leaders would discuss global and regional issues of mutual interest as well as plans for further co-operation to make bilateral ties deeper and more stable, Cuong said.

For almost 20 years, the two nations have held high-level meetings on the fringes of international conferences. They have also worked closely and effectively at regional and global forums, especially the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

Referring to the aftermath of the American War, Cuong conceded that Viet Nam suffered huge losses of life and property during the war. He said that with existing resources, it would take another 100 years for the country to clear all unexploded bombs, mines and ordnance left from the war in cities and provinces nationwide.

Despite this, Viet Nam was still working unconditionally with the US to search for missing soldiers as one of its humanitarian activities, Cuong said.

According to the ambassador, Viet Nam appreciates the growing co-operation and support that the US government, individuals and organisations are providing to offer social and medical assistance to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin. He expressed his hope that the US side would work harder on this humanitarian issue.

As for democracy and human rights, he said that there remained differences in approach between the two countries, yet it was important that the two sides stood ready to talk clearly and honestly to enhance mutual understanding and bridge the differences.

In this spirit, "we are ready to discuss the topics of democracy, human rights and religious freedom during President Sang's visit", the diplomat said.

"Friendship and equal and mutually-beneficial co-operation in line with the United Nations Charter and international law, and respect for each other's political institution, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity are the best way to move Viet Nam-US relations forward for the common interests of the two peoples," he added.

The Vietnamese delegation travelling to the US includes Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Head of the Presidential Office Dao Viet Trung, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong and Viet Nam's Permanent Representative to the United Nation Le Hoai Trung, among others.

Members of the delegation will also hold meetings with representatives from US partner agencies to discuss ways to boost friendship and co-operation between the two countries.

Source: VNS

Viet Nam, US, high-level delegations, human rights, religious freedom