Welcome ladies and gentlemen. It is my honor to be your host tonight along with Ambassador Osius as we celebrate the 239th anniversary of the beginning of our nation. This is also an important year in the history of our bilateral relationship, marking the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam.
We are honored to have with us here tonight our Ambassador, Ted Osius. Many of you know of Ambassador Osius’ prior service in Vietnam, particularly his work opening our Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City seventeen years ago. His long experience here and his love for Vietnam and its people makes it an honor to work for him, and to support his vision – a shared vision between the American and Vietnamese people — for the tremendous opportunity before us to build on the success of the last 20 years.
As the Ambassador will mention, part of the celebration of 20 years of growing relations is the high level visit that will take place in the next few days. But the real architects of the future of this relationship are the people here tonight in this room. Thank you to all of you who are here tonight because, like us, you believe that the U.S. and Vietnam are building a true partnership for the long term. That is the goal, and work we all do together will be the key to achieving it.
Finally, I also want to thank my Vietnamese colleagues who work at the Consulate. They are the unsung heroes of the relationship and work tirelessly to bring the U.S. and Vietnam closer together every day. We could not succeed without them and we are especially grateful for their hard work in organizing tonight’s event.