Remarks by APNSA O’Brien at Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

U.S. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs at Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

Government Guest House

Hanoi, Vietnam

22 November 2020

As prepared

Good morning.

Thank you Dr. Phạm Lan Dzung for that gracious introduction, and to Dr. Nguyễn Hùng Sơn for hosting me today.

This is my first time to your beautiful country and I am delighted to be with you this morning.  I am here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our two countries’ diplomatic relations.  Yesterday, I had the honor of meeting with Prime Minister Phuc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Minh, Minister of Defense Lich  and Minister of Public Security Lam.  The relationship between the United States and Vietnam is very strong and will only get stronger in the years to come.

I also witnessed the signing of the Long Son LNG-to-power project carried out by representatives from General Electric and GENCO3, Pacific Corporation, PECC 2, Mitsubishi, and TTC Group.  A deal worth more than 1 billion U.S. dollars in equipment and services and that will bring 1500 megawatts of clean and reliable power to Vietnam.

And to end a fantastic day, yesterday evening I took a walk around beautiful Hoan Kiem  Lake and heard about the legend of the turtle and the sword.

I have with me today my amazing wife Lo-Mari, our Ambassador to Vietnam, Dan Kritenbrink, Kim Reed, Chairman of the Export Import Bank, and Allison Hooker, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asia at the NSC.

It is inspiring to join a group of young people who will be future diplomats, ambassadors, international civil servants, and national security specialists.

You are entering service at a time when the Indo-Pacific is becoming center stage in world affairs. What interesting careers you will all have!

I bring you greetings from the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


25 years ago, our two great nations set aside a difficult history, and established a friendship

Over the years, that friendship has grown into a strong and comprehensive partnership, one rooted in trust and understanding.

It is a friendship built atop a foundation of people-to-people ties, including those created by people deeply affected by our past conflict — Veterans, bereaved family members, and civilians on both sides.

I remember as a youngster, my mother volunteering to help Vietnamese children who came to our country in 1975. We now have a vibrant and successful Vietnamese community in California, and other parts of their country. Their culture – your culture – is now part of the fabric of my nation.

Over the past quarter century, Americans and Vietnamese have traded and invested in each other’s countries, creating countless jobs for both our people.

Together, we have recovered the remains of those killed and missing in action.

We have removed mines, cooperated on nonproliferation and promoted maritime security.

As we have overcome the legacies of war, we have created opportunities for our children to grow while strengthening our bonds.  One example of our partnership is the fact that nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students now study in the United States.

Our two nations have also addressed a wide range of regional issues. Together, we have crafted a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In the last year, we have worked hand-in-hand, battling the coronavirus pandemic.

We are grateful for Vietnam’s assistance in keeping supply chains and factories open and helping us secure lifesaving PPE.

The American people appreciate your generosity in sending hundreds of thousands of fabric masks to our country.

We are glad we were able to send ventilators to Vietnam to ensure that your hospitals have enough on hand in the event of a resurgence of the virus.

Over the past year, we also signed the Peace Corps Implementing Agreement, an achievement more than 15 years in the making. We look forward to deepening the connections between our peoples for generations to come through the Peace Corps.

The United States Air Force Academy welcomed its first Vietnamese cadet this year. We hope he will be the first of many Vietnamese cadets and midshipmen to attend our service academies.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt made a port call in the beautiful city of Danang, marking only the second time an American aircraft carrier has made a port call in Vietnam since the end of the war.

Not only do such visits reaffirm and strengthen our partnership, they support peace, stability, and the unimpeded flow of commerce in the Indo-Pacific.

The United States values Vietnam’s partnership and close coordination on shared strategic concerns, including upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea and the Mekong. We also appreciate Vietnam’s close cooperation on enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions related to North Korea.

We share a deep commitment to an Indo-Pacific rooted in rules of respect, fairness, and principles of international law such as sovereignty and freedom of navigation.

This region has no interest in returning to an imperial era in which “might makes right.”

This is why America has taken a firm stance against China’s bullying coercion in the South China Sea and the growing security threats in the Mekong region.

We are also working closely to combat transnational crime and wildlife trafficking, strengthen water security, and increase energy security following the launch of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership in September.

We applaud Vietnamese leadership on these issues, and we stand with you as you seek a bright future for your people.

From the South China Sea to the Mekong Riverine, the bounteous resources of your nation belong to your children and grandchildren.  Their inheritance cannot be taken away simply because a neighbor is bigger and desires what is yours for itself.

This year also saw the resounding success of the third annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum, co-hosted by our two nations.

Billions of dollars in commercial deals were signed, including two landmark energy partnerships that will promote Vietnam’s energy security.

As our nations recover from the pandemic, economic cooperation will prove more important than ever.

As the world’s largest economy and most generous donor in humanitarian assistance, the United States stands ready to help boost Vietnam’s economy. In turn, we want Vietnam to buy more of America’s terrific products and host more American companies in your country.

Finally, on the multilateral front, I want to highlight our cooperation on UN Security Council issues. Also, we commend Vietnam for its outstanding Chairmanship of ASEAN this year. Excellent job. I represented the United States at the past two ASEAN-US summits and I can tell you that Prime Minister Phuc’s leadership was impressive.

We are honored to partner with such a strong and vibrant nation.

Ours is a friendship built upon shared interests and deep respect for one another’s freedom, independence, and sovereignty.

Our political systems may be different, but the same values are enshrined in the American and Vietnamese declarations of independence.

Throughout your history, the Vietnamese people, like the American people, have resisted those who sought to infringe upon your sovereignty — sacrificing themselves to preserve Vietnam’s distinctiveness and strategic space.

We respect your patriotism, your vision, your determination, and your passion for an independent and truly sovereign nation that is not subservient to another.

We are deeply invested in a strong and prosperous Vietnam at the center of a free and open Indo-Pacific. We look forward to accomplishing great things with you in the future.

May God bless you, may God bless Vietnam, and may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

For the photos of APNSA O’Brien’s visit to Vietnam: