Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang (R) and his US counterpart Barack Obama at the event (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – President Tran Dai Quang and his US counterpart Barack Obama chaired an international press conference in Hanoi on May 23 to answer reporters’ queries on the outcomes of their talks and directions for the two countries’ relations going forward.

President Quang told reporters that the talks focused on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern.

The leaders exchanged notes on the implementation of the Join Statement on the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership in July 2013, and the Joint Vision Statement in July 2015.

They spoke of important achievements in bilateral ties, while pledging to follow principles respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions.

At the talks, Vietnam and the US also issued a joint statement agreeing to intensify the comprehensive partnership in a more practical and effective manner, and to consider development cooperation a focus of bilateral ties, he said.

The Vietnamese leader informed reporters that the two sides had reached several important agreements on economy, trade, health, humanitarian activities, education and training, law enforcement and judicial affairs, and people-to-people exchanges.

“The two sides agreed to give priority to the settlement of war aftermaths, and vowed to continue cooperation in this issue,” he said, adding that the US will collaborate with Vietnam in dioxin detoxification at Bien Hoa airport after the detoxification project at Da Nang airport finishes.

“Vietnam appreciates the US’s decision to completely lift its ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam. This shows the two countries’ relations have been normalised completely,” Quang stated.

He continued by saying that during the talks, the two leaders also discussed orientations for the Vietnam-US relationship as well as measures to deepen bilateral cooperation.

They emphasised the importance of building trust and prioritising development cooperation in economy, trade-investment, science-technology, human resources training and climate change response, and affirmed efforts to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as early as possible.

Both host and guest agreed to intensify coordination at regional and international forums. The US committed to helping Vietnam successfully organise the APEC Summit in 2017, and participate in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

They exchanged views on the recent East Sea situation and confirmed continued cooperation to address climate change-related issues and use the Mekong River’s water resources sustainably.

They also believed that the development of Vietnam-US relations would not only bring about benefits to each nation, but also contribute to tightening the ASEAN-US relations and to peace, stability, cooperation and development in Asia-Pacific and the world.

President Barrack Obama expressed his delight at his first official visit to Vietnam and delivered the greetings of friendship and cooperation from the American people to all Vietnamese.

The US-Vietnam relations have gone from non-cooperation and conflicts through more than two decades of normalised ties to reach a new moment for an even closer and deeper relationship, the president said.

Obama affirmed that one of the top priorities of the US foreign policy is to ensure that the US continues to play a larger and long-term role in Asia-Pacific, which is vital to the two countries’ security and prosperity.

Speaking of the two-way trade, he said that US exports to Vietnam have surged by 150 percent since he took office and the US has also witnessed a significant growth in imports from Vietnam.

Vietnam has become one of the top countries sending students to the US, he noted, adding that positive signs are also seen in people-to-people exchange activities.

The two countries agreed to boost cooperation in multiple fields, including education, science and technology, economy, civil nuclear and peacekeeping missions, the US leader said.

“Together Vietnam and the US are pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, not only to support trade but also to draw our nations closer together and reinforce regional cooperation,” he stated.

“The United States is fully lifting the ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for some fifty years,” President Obama declared.

He stressed that both the US and Vietnam support a regional order, including in the East Sea, in accordance with international law and rules, in which freedom of navigation and aviation, and lawful trading will be ensured. All disputes should be resolved by peaceful means in line with international law, he said.

President Obama thanked the government and people of Vietnam for many years of cooperation in searching for US soldiers missing in action during the war in Vietnam.

He pledged that the US will continue to help Vietnam remove unexploded land mines and bombs, and clear Agent Orange/dioxin. The US will work closely with Vietnam in response to natural disasters.

The President spoke highly of the Vietnamese government’s granting of permission for the establishment of Fulbright University Vietnam and allowing US citizens to hold multiple-entry visas to Vietnam.

He reiterated the US’s commitment to partner with Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region for peace, security and prosperity.

Regarding the marked progress of bilateral ties over the past two decades, President Quang said the Vietnam-US relations have seen significant strides in various fields, both extensively and intensively, and in bilateral and multilateral aspects.

The bilateral political and diplomatic ties have been developed into a comprehensive partnership thanks to the maintenance of visits and exchanges between leaders of the two countries.

In addition to bilateral collaboration, the two sides have also enhanced coordination at regional and international forums, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in Asia-Pacific and the world, he said.

He noted that both nations are sharing in plenty of mutual interests and concerns, particularly regarding the maintenance of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

He cited two-way trade has increased over 130 times, topping 44.5 billion USD in 2015. The US currently ranks seventh among countries and territories running investment in Vietnam.

There are enormous potential for bilateral trade and economic cooperation, especially after the two countries have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, he said.

The bilateral cooperation in education has also seen big development, he said, noting that Fulbright University Vietnam – a non-profit tertiary education facility invested by a US-established organisation – has received an operating licence, while the number of Vietnamese students in the US is highest among ASEAN countries.

The Vietnamese State leader also highlighted the growing security and defence cooperation between the two countries, saying Vietnam and the US have joined hands in addressing the aftermath of the war and have completed the first phase of dioxin cleanup at Da Nang airport. Both nations will push ahead with the implementation of the second phase of the project at various other locations, including Bien Hoa airport.

He confirmed that the significant strides in the Vietnam-US relations stemmed from the fact that the two sides are sharing more common interests and concerns and seriously implementing their commitments of respecting the other’s independence, sovereignty, political institutions and legitimate interests.

Responding to a question on the significance of his visit and the position of Vietnam in the US’s external policy, President Obama noted that Vietnam is one of the countries that records impressive growth in the region and has the highest speed of growth in the world, and a young workforce.

The US wishes to strengthen ties with Vietnam to ensure that during the country’s development, young people access opportunities to cooperate with their US peers, he said.

President Obama affirmed that his country hopes to boost relations with Vietnam on a bilateral basis, and work with the Southeast Asian country in coping with regional and global challenges such as climate change and pandemics, while continuing to promote ties within multilateral mechanisms.

Answering questions related to the US’s decision to fully lift the ban on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, the President clarified that the decision was based on a long process of bilateral relations beginning with courage and difficult conversations over the past decades.

The US leader also mentioned the efforts of many US congressmen in fostering political dialogue between the US and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, regarding the human rights issue in the Vietnam – US relationship, President Tran Dai Quang affirmed Vietnam’s constant stand of protecting and respecting human rights. This is clearly stated in the 2013 Constitution, he said, adding that Vietnam is continuing to institutionalise those rights with a number of bills.

Over three decades of renewal, Vietnam has gained a great number of attainments, including those in protecting human and citizen rights, he stated.

He added that Vietnam’s efforts and success have been recognised internationally, as evidenced by the country being elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 tenure.

However, there are still different understandings of human rights between the two countries, he noted, expressing his hope that Vietnam and the US will continue expanding open, straightforward and constructive dialogues on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.-VNA