U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today concluded an official visit to Vietnam where she met with senior government officials, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, to discuss ways the United States and the South Asian country can work together to combat the world’s growing trade in illegal wildlife, which threatens to push to extinction species ranging from elephants and rhinos to marine turtles, tigers and pangolins.
“Both Vietnam and the United States have a role to play in shutting down illegal trade in wildlife, and it is critical that we collaborate in our mutual efforts to crack down on poaching and trafficking by international criminal organizations,” said Jewell. “We had productive meetings and leaders of both nations recognize that we must take swift, effective action if we are going to shut down this trade that threatens to wipe out species around the globe.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. In addition to Prime Minister Dung, Jewell held meetings with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat; and Minister of Public Safety Tran Dai Quang.
Jewell also held a roundtable discussion with NGO leaders on wildlife trafficking and met with members of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. She also visited Cuc Phuong National Park to tour the Endangered Primate Research Center, Pangolin Conservation Program and Turtle Conservation Center.
The trip was part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife. President Obama in July 2013 issues an Executive Order on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking. An interagency taskforce in 2014 developed a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking (PDF 504 KB) that focused on reducing demand, bolstering law enforcement and promoting international cooperation, and an implementation plan (PDF 226 KB) was issued in 2015 to guide and direct efforts to execute the national strategy.
As part of this effort, Jewell joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and other officials last month at New York City’s Times Square where one ton of confiscated elephant ivory was crushed. This was the second ivory crush conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate wildlife crimes.
Jewell will travel to China this week to hold meetings with Chinese officials on wildlife trafficking and also promote efforts to boost Chinese tourism to the United States in anticipation of next year’s Centennial of the National Park System.
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