President Barack Obama has welcomed to the White House the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, on July 7. The event proves to be a historic one for this is the first-ever visit to the U.S. by a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam at the invitation of the U.S. government. The meeting between the two leaders coincides with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations.
The meeting also comes in the wake of increasing Chinese threat over the South China Sea where Vietnam is one among the countries disputing over territorial claims against China.
Trong held a press conference upon arriving at the Andrews military airport in Washington DC at 8 a.m. together with the Vietnamese delegation. Trong said that the invitation he got from U.S. and his agreement for the meeting displayed the friendship that has already been nourished between the two nations.
“Unfortunately, the history of Vietnam – US relations had a gloomy chapter, leaving behind heavy legacies in both nations. Time has shown us that above all is our burning desire for peace and a flourishing friendship and cooperation between us, and the two countries have managed to ‘put the past behind, rise over differences, maximize similarities and head to a brighter future,’” Trong told press.
Trong said that the U.S. has a great interest and responsibility in maintaining peace and stability in the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, being one of the world’s leading major powers. With regard to the South China Sea issue, Trong said he appreciates that U.S. is very vocal in saying that it supports a peaceful approach to settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
“We are all aware of the strategic location of the East Sea (South China Sea). About 50 percent of the world’s shipping traffic passes through sea routes in this area. Therefore, maintaining peace, stability, maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and aviation without changing the status quo, conducting militarization, imposing sea and air control in the East Sea is not only in the interest of any single country but the shared desire of all countries in the region and beyond,” Trong outlined.
“I hope that the US will continue to have appropriate voice and actions to contribute to peaceful settlement of disputes in the East Sea in accordance with international law in order to ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and the world,” he said.
China in particular
China and the U.S. are both major economic partners of Vietnam and both countries are exerting effort to establish deeper relations with Vietnam. Asked what Vietnam would do as it is situated between U.S and China, Trong said Vietnam will side with the one acting in accordance to international law.
“Reality shows that major powers will be welcomed by the international community if they act in accordance with international law without affecting legitimate interests of other countries and if they make active and constructive contributions to the peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.”
Just last week, China towed its biggest oil rig closer to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea. Also last week, Vietnam accused China of harassing its fishermen over the disputed territory. Hence, Vietnam has called for China to stop it illegal massive land reclamation projects.
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