The Vietnam-US relationship has experienced its ups and downs but has overcome a tumultuous past and moved towards a future of cooperation for the sake of both countries.
US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam signed a Protocol on August 5, 1995, officially establishing the bilateral diplomatic ties.
Once enemies, the two countries have normalised their relationship over the last 25 years and advanced it to a new high - a comprehensive partnership covering a wide range of spheres, from politics-diplomacy to economy, education, science-technology, and national defence and security.
Vietnamese and US leaders have exchanged visits and committed to respecting each other’s independence, national sovereignty and integrity, and political institutions.
Both parties in the US Congress have expressed support for promoting relations with Vietnam.
The framework of the comprehensive partnership was established during the visit to the US by State President Truong Tan Sang in July 2013. This was a key milestone demonstrating the inevitable development trend of Vietnam-US relations and created a firm foundation for bilateral ties to grow further.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit in July 2015 was also a key milestone in the two countries’ relations, with the accompanying issuance of a Joint Vision Statement.
During his trip to Vietnam in May 2016, President Barack Obama announced the complete removal of a ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam which was the final barrier in bilateral relations, marking the complete normalisation of relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was the first leader in ASEAN to visit the US after President Donald Trump took office.
Trump was also the first US President to visit Vietnam twice during a single term in office.
Multilaterally, Vietnam and the US have shared strategic interests in maintaining peace, security, stability, cooperation, and order based on rules in Asia-Indo-Pacific, including issues regarding the East Sea, the Mekong River, and the Korean peninsula. They have also coordinated at ASEAN forums, APEC, the UN, and the WTO.
The two countries have also made notable achievements in defence-security cooperation over the last 25 years, in particular the settlement of the consequences of war and improvements to maritime law enforcement capacity.
Vietnam has coordinated with the US in the search for US servicemen who went missing during the war.
Vietnam and the US have maintained the exchange of delegations at all levels, bilateral dialogue mechanisms, and meetings at regional forums.
The two have approved a three-year action plan on defence cooperation in 2018-2021, coordinated in UN peacekeeping operations, and enhanced their collaboration in coping with regional and international security risks.
Speaking at a ceremony kicking off celebrations of the 25th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties on January 30, David R. Stilwell, US Assistant Secretary of State, said the partnership and friendship between the two countries have been established through joint efforts.
The two countries have overcome post-war difficulties to become trusted partners on the basis of mutual respect, he said, adding that, over past years, policy dialogue frameworks have been expanded, contributing to building mutual trust.
At an international seminar in Hanoi on July 1 that reviewed Vietnam-US ties over the last 25 years, US Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink said the achievements in the comprehensive partnership have been extraordinary.
The US will continue to remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from wartime and will support Vietnamese people with disabilities or who are Agent Orange/dioxin victims, while helping Vietnam with socio-economic activities, he said.
Michael Miclausis from the US National Strategic Research Institute said bilateral ties have become warmer and represent an outstanding success in international relations.
He described the normalisation of relations as an extraordinary transformation, saying the two countries have changed from being enemies to partners, and their mutually-beneficial partnership has developed strongly.
Despite differences in economic and political systems, the two have shared a perception on strategic balance in the region, he said, adding that both are aware that through cooperation they can be stronger when facing common strategic challenges.
Gregory Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), lauded the joint efforts made in boosting economic cooperation, which, he said, began from almost nothing.
Defence and security cooperation is a major driver of bilateral ties at present, he said.
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Quang Vinh, who is a former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, said that after a quarter of a century, relations have been consolidated in line with the spirit of the Joint Vision Statement - putting aside the past, overcoming differences and promoting similarities, and looking towards the future./.VNA
The Stimson Center, a US-based nonpartisan policy research center, has scheduled an online conference titled “The U.S. – Vietnam Relationship and War Legacies: 25 Years into Normalization” on July 15.
The Vietnam- US comprehensive partnership has flourished in all spheres over the past years, including security and national defence.