A story about US President to Vietnam Ambassador

Vietnam US Ambassador Le Cong Phung shared that he was very surprised when I first was invited to a party CIA director Christmas in 2010 and more surprised when a year later, he was General ASEAN sole mission is invited to a party at the Office of President.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the normalization of Vietnam-US relations, Reuters correspondent had conversations with former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Ambassador of Vietnam in the US Le Cong Phung memorable memories of liability His period in America.

Could you share some memories which he remembered in his tenure at the US ambassador?

I am the third ambassador to Vietnam in America. Ambassador Le Van Bang first hard because Vietnam protests, opposition to the Vietnam - US too large. Ambassador Nguyen Tam Chien Monday leisurely nor anything; but when my period is quite favorable opportunities when difficulties were much less.

In 2007, after 12 years of normalized relations, the two sides have absorbed the consequences of hostilities and the need to change. The two sides to strengthen cooperation and exchange of visits of senior leaders, making statements conducive to bilateral relations.

On the occasion of celebrating the 15th anniversary of Vietnam and the United States established diplomatic relations in Washington, I have invited former President Bill Clinton and many senators, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence to estimates.

What impressed me most is the programs, Clinton said only finished about 15 minutes, but the air show fun too, he told me to stay for a little while. We sat talking with parliamentarians, officials from the Defense Department and fun.

It is worth to remember that at that time I stood next to Clinton. In a speech at the ceremony, Mr. Clinton says a lot about our relationship because he was a declared lifting embargo and normalizing relations with Vietnam. Mr. Clinton said that both Democrats and Republicans take turns in power, fiercely fighting each other on many issues, but in its relations with Vietnam, the two parties to agree.

In 2010, the first time I was director of the US CIA, Leon Panetta when it is he, invited to the Christmas party. It was a big surprise to me because normally only CIA Director invited US allies to attend the annual party. And since 2010, they continue to invite me along with representatives from Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, in addition to no other country in ASEAN are invited.

Another anniversary was around Christmas of 2011, I was the only ambassador of ASEAN is the president invited to a party, this makes me very surprised as well.

Facing local representatives in many US states, I noticed something like Bill Clinton said that the interest and ties with Vietnam have become mainstream, the overall trend of the local US , although each state has its own laws.

Before the end of the term, I have to go to Hawaii and worked with Pacific Command, in contact with 37 generals in the morning. They told me that after the country grappling with how to accelerate national defense and security cooperation between the two countries, expressing the wish to cooperate in this field with us.

These show that the US has changed the outlook for Vietnam, want closer to us although not as allies. In a statement in 2010, 2011, they both said, in Southeast Asia, they are most interested in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore. Thus, clearly demonstrates the demand and strategic step in their foreign policy towards Vietnam.

Strategic partners: Only in matters sentences, words

As he said, the United States toward a strategic relationship with us from 2010, 2011; but why so far, the two countries have not formally establish this relationship?

When I was ambassador, in 2010, the US had wanted to establish strategic partnership relations with Vietnam because they also have their attention that if Vietnam is a strategic partner, China should be more vigilant, it is the competition between major countries together. However, we cooperate with the United States but not directed against anyone.

Meanwhile, the US State Department told me that completed a strategic partner and I go to Vietnam ambassador's term ends. They are very keen to promote ties to a higher level.

Although not establish strategic partnerships, but the inner meaning of relations has shown the strategic nature and it is important that the two countries had parallel interests and the biggest parallel is to maintain peace and stability in region, including the South China Sea. I think what we do not hinder called strategic partnership the two sides are different political regimes, so the problem is only in words, but Congress has functions such nature before.

The two countries have gone very far in bilateral relations and in my opinion the US-Vietnam relations are one of the bilateral relations at present the fastest growing.
Regarding TPP, the Americans have recommended Vietnam to participate and present no major problems as labor, transparency, public expense. The US Congress recently authorized the negotiation quickly (TPA) for the president is very convenient for the negotiation process and the future we will see what brings TPP.

I think the ability TPP negotiations can be completed this year was to completely dismantle weapons, the damage to Vietnam needs more time because there are differences in the regimes, ideologies and both internally Noodle. Actually, they removed part was in good faith and is a big turn in relations between the two countries that are former enemies of each other.

"Closing the past, look to the future," Vietnam-US relations have achieved very positive results, can be said to break through in some areas 20 years after normalization. He is happy about our relationship? If taken as a standard scale of 10, he will for Vietnam-US relations at any point?

If talking to a specific point, it is difficult, but must say that, looking back 20 years, we can say Vietnam-US relations develop very encouraging although much remains to be satisfied that if the two sides to try harder, relationship may further for geographical balance cooperate much with the original interest in the outcome of the meeting area and the current world.

However, until now, many differences are narrowing and resolution. The so unresolved was zoned and controlled, especially the two sides have built up confidence for a long term process.

Regarding human rights, dialogue between the two countries were upgraded to deputy ministers. Vietnam has made clear its stance on human rights for the United States, affirmed each country has its own way of handling human rights according to their tradition, according to the economic development, in a manner in accordance with contemporary democracy and human rights majority. Thanks to the dialogue, the two sides this difference is narrowing slowly.

Though war syndrome exists between the two countries, but a lot better than before. When I was ambassador, I witnessed many protests against the US-Vietnam relationship, but this time opposing forces reduced much because after 40 years of war, the Vietnamese people in the US feel that anybody country needs, everyone needs where "native land" of his, which is very sacred.

But the opposition has decreased, but we still need policies and stronger step for how our fellow citizens towards their country because otherwise the war will syndrome is a major obstacle in bilateral relations .

To reach higher points, the two sides should make efforts to increase co-location, points of disagreement limited to how many Americans no longer see Vietnam as a war, a democratic country, human rights ... and Vietnam many people no longer consider the US as an enemy and conspiracy to overthrow the regime, peace movements.

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