VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. President. It is my honor to be the first Vice President of the United States to visit Vietnam in the last quarter of a century. And I’m looking very much forward to a productive conversation that is focused on strengthening the relationship between the United States and Vietnam, and expressing our continuing support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.
Our relationship has come a long way in a quarter of a century. We have managed programs that deal with our war legacy issues; growing economic ties; shared principles, like upholding rule-based international order; and jointly addressing global challenges, such as the pandemic and the climate crisis.
Our partnership has produced tangible results. During my visit, we will open a Peace Corps office. We will sign a new lease for the United States Embassy. And we will formally launch our Center for Disease Control — CDC’s — Southeast Asia regional office. All of these as symbols of our enduring relationship with Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a member of the Indo-Pacific region.
I would also ask that, while we are here, that we consider doing what we can to upgrade our relationship as a strategic partnership. This will send a positive message to our governments, and our people, and the region as we deepen our relationship.
And I want to thank you for your help in releasing American citizens.
We will work closely with Vietnam to uphold the rule-based international order, including freedom of navigation, an issue that we take seriously, and including as it relates to the South China Sea.
We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims.
We urge Vietnam to support the Joint Statement of Maritime Principles for the Western Pacific that we have proposed. This statement will affirm our collective commitment to upholding freedom of the seas.
I understand that Vietnam recently requested a third former United States Coast Guard cutter, and our administration strongly supports this request, as we want to help Vietnam develop its maritime security capabilities.
The United States also wants to maintain our security cooperation. And let me affirm that the United States Navy will maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea and will continue to challenge Beijing’s bullying and excessive maritime claims.
I thank you.