“We underscored quite clearly . . . the strong desire of the United States to have a better relationship with Vietnam,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell during his recent visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.
“For the United States and Vietnam to go to the next level, it will require some significant steps on the part of Vietnam to address . . . human rights concerns, systemic challenges associated with freedom of expression, [and] freedom of organization,”
The purpose of Assistant Secretary Campbell’s visit was to expand the scope and depth of our relations with Vietnam, and to explain to Vietnamese interlocutors the multi-faceted steps in the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, which includes strengthening our security partnerships with key partners in the region, advancing a stronger, multilateral engagement in the Association of South East Asian Nations’ Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and identifying ways to diversify the U.S. military posture in the Asia-Pacific region.
“While the United States is seeking a stronger role in the Asia-Pacific region, we also believe it is essential to have a strong relationship between the United States and China,” Assistant Secretary Campbell said. “We recognize that every country in Asia desires a better relationship with China. We understand that, we support that. We think that’s an essential feature of the maintenance of peace and stability.”
On enhancing existing U.S. - Vietnamese military relations, Assistant Secretary Campbell said, “Our desire is to take this process in a step-by-step manner. . . . We would like to see . . . a greater exchange of views and dialogue . . . to build trust and confidence . . . Then we would very much like to see some of these changes that I’m talking about in . . . human rights so that we will be able to see a more fulsome relationship between our two sides.”
Vietnam is a key country in the Asia Pacific region, and one with which the United States will be working closely in the decades to come. “That’s . . . why . . . we talked about a variety of foundations for . . . [our] relationship, [which includes] the economic relationship, the people-to-people interactions, [and] the . . . consultations that will be necessary to advance our common concerns in multilateral forums.” Assistant Secretary Campbell said in conclusion. “I’m confident that there is a deeper recognition . . . that our role in Asia is inseparable from our own prosperity and security, and . . . that’s in the best interest of all involved.”