Senator John McCain (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Washington DC, (VNA)
– Senator John McCain, who passed away on August 25 (US time) at the age of 81, has a very special position in the history of the Vietnam-US relationship, said Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc.

In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency on August 26, the Ambassador recalled his meeting with McCain in the early 1990s when the US Senator and Senator John Kerry were members of a special committee on American prisoners of war or missing in action soldiers.

Ngoc shared that he had opportunities to work with McCain as his interpreter during the US Senator’s working trips to Vietnam.
 
[Senator McCain - who helps lay foundation for Vietnam-US relations - passes away]

From those trips, Ngoc noticed the Senator’s strategic vision, leadership and high political determination for the normalisation of Vietnam-US relations despite very great internal obstacles.

It can be said that Senator McCain is a symbol of the Vietnam-US reconciliation process during which the two sides overcame their past as old enemies to normalise and develop bilateral relations.

McCain enthusiastically supported and made untiring efforts for the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership, Ngoc said.

Along with Senator John Kerry and other senators like Patrick Leahy or Jim Webb, McCain had been at the forefront in the normalisation and enhancement of Vietnam-US friendship and cooperation, he added.

At the most difficult time of the bilateral relations when many still expressed suspicion and even protest about the Vietnam-US ties, McCain and Kerry and other senators had played a decisive role in the irreversible process of normalisation, Ngoc said.

Therefore, it could be said that McCain deserves credit for promoting the Vietnam-US relations and later, the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, according to the ambassador.

He said even during his illness, McCain still paid attention to Vietnam-related issues such as cooperation with Vietnam, the East Sea issues and the catfish programme that affects poor farmers in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam.

The ambassador held that the work by McCain and other incumbent and former members of the US Congress had inspired young US Congressmen to promote the bilateral relations.

He expressed his belief that with the support of both the Republican and Democratic Parties in the US Congress, the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership will continue thriving for the benefits of the two peoples.

McCain served in the invading war of the US in Vietnam. He joined in the Rolling Thunder air campaign in 1967, bombing targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (northern Vietnam). His plane was shot down on October 26, 1967 and McCain was taken prisoner. He was returned to the US in an exchange of prisoners in 1973.

Returning from Vietnam, McCain joined politics and was one of the first persons campaigning for normalization of US-Vietnam relations through promoting humanitarian issues such as removing unexploded ordnance left by the war, searching for missing-in-action personnel, supporting people with disabilities caused by the war, and detoxifying areas polluted by dioxin.

In 1994, the US Senate approved a resolution sponsored by McCain and Senator John Kerry, calling to end the economic sanction against Vietnam, paving the way for the normalization of relations between the two countries one year later.-VNA