Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem following signing ceremonies in Hanoi, Vietnam, on October 30. The signing ceremonies represented the agreements for the United Nations Convention Against Torture, as well as the agreement on the Boeing 787-9 between Vietnam Airlines and Boeing.
Secretary Clinton said, "It is a pleasure to be back in Hanoi again and to have the honor of witnessing the completion of the major agreement between our nations. Boeing and Microsoft are two of America's great companies and the partnerships you have cemented today will provide tangible benefits both to Vietnamese and to Americans.
"I'm also very pleased to see the agreement regarding the United Nations Convention Against Torture signed. This convention represents a decades-long commitment by the international community to respect human rights and dignity. The United States is honored to support the people of Vietnam as they reaffirm their commitment to this cause by ratifying this convention."
The Secretary also highlighted her discussions on a wide variety of issues with both the Vietnamese prime minister and foreign minister. Secretary Clinton said, "It is clear that our countries have reached a level of cooperation that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. We have moved beyond a painful past and built a relationship that is built on mutual respect, friendship, and a common interest in a stable, secure, and prosperous Asia Pacific region. In our discussions, we reaffirmed our shared interest in working toward a strategic partnership and we covered a wide range of other issues. We talked about the importance of our growing cooperation on maritime security, search and rescue operations, and disaster relief."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...On trade, our two countries have already made great progress. Fifteen years ago, our bilateral trade was about $450 million. Last year it was more than $15 billion. And the foreign minister and the prime minister and I talked about how to expand this trade relationship, including through the Transpacific Partnership. The United States, Vietnam, and seven other countries finished a third round of negotiations on the TPP this month and we hope that Vietnam can conclude it in internal process and announce its status as a full member of the partnership soon.
"In health, the United States has provided substantial funding for Vietnam's efforts to strengthen its health system, and combat HIV/AIDS, Avian Flu, and emerging pandemic threats. Next year, we will start work on a $34 million project to remove the dioxin from the soil at Da Nang Airport, a legacy of the painful past we share, and a sign of the more hopeful future we are building together.
"Climate change, as we head into negotiations in Cancun this November, we hope to work with Vietnam and other countries to build on the progress that we made in Copenhagen. In addition, at the meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative, we discussed how to work together to adapt to the effects of a changing climate. And we had a very constructive discussion about the potential impact of building dams on the Lower Mekong. The United States has recommended a pause before major construction continues, and we will sponsor a study of this issue.
"Now, although the partnership between our two countries is strong and getting stronger, as with all friends we have areas of disagreement. One of those areas concerns human rights. While the agreement we witnessed being signed today is certainly a step in the right direction, the United States remains concerned about the arrest and conviction of people for peaceful dissent, the attacks on religious groups, the curbs on Internet freedom, including of bloggers. Vietnam has so much potential, and we believe that political reform and respect for human rights are an essential part of realizing that potential."
In conclusion, the Secretary said, "The last time I was here, in July, we celebrated 15 years of relations between Vietnam and the United States. This time we celebrate 1,000 years for Hanoi as the capital of Vietnam. And I want to extend my congratulations to the citizens of this beautiful city, and my best wishes to all of the people of Vietnam. I look forward to working with you, and with the people of Vietnam, to expand our work, our partnership, and our friendship in the years to come.
"The agreement is a direct result of the dialogue on human rights between our two countries. Further proof that discussions of even difficult issues can produces real results."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks here.
Secretary Clinton is traveling to Hawaii, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia October 27-November 8. You can learn about the Secretary's trip here.