Top Vietnamese leaders, speaking to U.S. Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse in Hanoi late last week, underlined the need to foster stronger multi-faceted cooperative ties between the two nations.
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and
National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung attached importance to
relations with the United States.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong told Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse during a meeting last Friday that he was satisfied with positive developments in multi-faceted ties, particularly after the two countries established a comprehensive partnership last year.
The Party and the State of Vietnam consider the U.S. a partner of leading importance and back the promotion of bilateral relations at all levels and in fields suitable with the interests of the two peoples as well as for peace, stability and development in the region and the world, Trong was quoted by Vietnam News Agency.
He called for the two nations to take measures to effectively implement their Comprehensive Partnership and prepare for celebration of the 20th anniversary of normalization of bilateral relations next year.
The two senators said the U.S.-Vietnam relations have come a long way since normalization and have made good progress.
McCain and Whitehouse last Saturday also met Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi.
Dung highlighted the contributions the two Senators had made to developing ties between the two countries, saying Vietnam wanted to step up ties with the U.S. in various areas, especially politics, diplomacy, economics, trade, investment, education and training, and science and technology.
Vietnam needs U.S. support in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, he said, adding America should take a flexible stance on Vietnam in the negotiation process.
On the defense and security front, Dung said Vietnam is looking for U.S. backing to improve its maritime capabilities to safeguard its national sovereignty, and cope with the aftermath of war, especially in bomb and mine clearance and Agent Orange/Dioxin consequences.
Vietnam is also ready to work with the U.S. in the area of cyber security, he said.
For human rights, Dung affirmed that Vietnam had been making efforts to safeguard human rights as this is not only a goal of the country but also a legitimate desire of Vietnamese people. Therefore, the human rights situation has positively improved, and Vietnam is willing to hold dialogue with the U.S. over this area, he noted.
Senator John McCain noted that the global situation continues becoming complicated. Maritime security, safety and freedom in the East Sea have always been a hot issue concerning many countries in the world, he said.
To ensure peace, security, maritime and overflight safety, and freedom of navigation in the East Sea, all parties concerned, including China, should abide by international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, refrain from using or threatening to use force, and settle disputes by peaceful means, he said.
He emphasized the need to strictly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and build a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) soon.
McCain: America likely to lift arms sales ban on Vietnam
McCain said he and Whitehouse would send a proposal to U.S. Congress for lifting the ban on lethal arms sales to Vietnam. He also mentioned this matter while meeting with Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh and briefing the media last Friday.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said he was confident of bipartisan support for easing restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam as early as next month.
Both senators said Vietnam needed better maritime capabilities to protect sovereignty and that its human rights record had improved enough to justify more military support from America, according to Reuters.
“The time has come for the United States to begin easing our lethal arms embargo on Vietnam,” McCain told reporters in Hanoi. “We hope to begin the easing of that as early as September ... We’re not guaranteeing it but we do believe we have very strong bipartisan support.”
McCain and Whitehouse were among four senators to visit the country since early May.