About the Author: Tom Weinz is the dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer for Pacific Partnership 2010.
Both the Embassy of the United States in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City have been fully supportive of Pacific Partnership 2010. In that spirit, American Ambassador Michael Michalak spent June 4 on Mercy and participated in ceremonies around Quy Nhon, Vietnam. Members of Mercy's mess hall staff catered an impressive lunch for thirty guests, including Vietnamese officials, the captain of the Japanese ship Kunisaki, and representatives from all our NGOs and partner nations.
During my time with Pacific Partnership over the past four years, I have come to appreciate how important the ambassador's role is during each mission in-country. One of the primary concepts of these missions is sustainability, and the permanent presence of our embassy in these countries is a key factor, in preparation, in execution, and during follow-up and lessons learned. The ambassador is the personification of United States policies and programs in each country, and is recognized as such on local media and by people from all walks of life. Ambassador Michalak, in Vietnam since 2007 and a Foreign Service professional for more than thirty years, spent the day thanking PP10 personnel, doing interviews with the local media, and dedicating PP10 projects. His visit was deeply appreciated by the men and women serving on the ship and in the projects all around Quy Nhon.
President Bill Clinton normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995. By any measure, the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have achieved remarkable political, economic and humanitarian cooperation since then, and both countries are planning to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of normalization this summer. The Government of Vietnam allows the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) to conduct four missions a year within Vietnamese territory, during which specially trained teams conduct investigations and excavations in an attempt to fully account for all American personnel lost during the war. PP10 is a reflection of the ongoing cooperation between the two countries on international peacekeeping issues, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue, maritime and border security, law enforcement and nonproliferation efforts. As mentioned previously, Vietnam has been included in three of the four Pacific Partnership missions to date, and given the impressive interaction I see daily during this visit, there will be many, many more.
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