On July 10, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, where she met with senior Vietnamese leaders. The Secretary also witnessed the signing of several agreements covering education exchanges and commercial contracts, as well as met with representatives of U.S. and Vietnamese business communities.
Secretary Clinton and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh discussed a number of issues, including maritime security, nonproliferation, public health, disaster relief, and promoting trade and economic growth, as well as shared interest in deepening cultural, educational, and economic ties. In a joint press conference after their bilateral meeting, the Secretary said, "Vietnam has emerged as a leader in the lower Mekong region and in Southeast Asia, and the United States and Vietnam share important strategic interests."
She continued, "The United States greatly appreciates Vietnam's contributions to a collaborative, diplomatic resolution of disputes and a reduction of tensions in the South China Sea. And we look to ASEAN to make rapid progress with China toward an effective code of conduct in order to ensure that as challenges arise, they are managed and resolved peacefully through a consensual process in accordance with established principles of international law."
Secretary Clinton helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of the return of the Fulbright Program in Vietnam. She said, "Over the past two decades, the Fulbright program has helped to deepen the ties between our nations and it has, as we have just heard, literally transformed the lives of over 8,000 American and Vietnamese students, scholars, educators, and business people." She continued, "Today, there are more than 15,000 Vietnamese students in the United States, and I believe this generation of students and scholars is well positioned to make great contributions to Vietnam's future. And it won't be just because of their education and their skill, it will be because of the relationship and perspective that they forge and bring home with them. And they then will be really at the foundation of creating new opportunities, new ways of thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship that will help so many other Vietnamese realize their own dreams."
The Secretary also visited with the American Chamber of Commerce and a number of both Vietnamese and American business leaders. Secretary Clinton said, "At the State Department, we have mounted a serious effort to place economics at the center of American foreign policy. We call it economic statecraft, using diplomacy and tools, like the Export-Import Bank, to advance and promote American economic interests and to harness the powers of the market to advance our strategic goals. And we are particularly focused on developing a global economic order that is open, free, transparent, and fair. She continued, "Vietnam is an excellent case in point for how we can grow together rather than at each other's expense. When my husband reestablished diplomatic relations in 1995, there was very little American investment in Vietnam. Today, we are the seventh largest foreign investor, and our annual bilateral trade has grown to almost $22 billion."
In closing, she said, "We've come a long way in a short period of time, and that is what economic statecraft is all about."
Secretary Clinton is on travel to France, Afghanistan, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt, and Israel. You can follow her trip on www.state.gov.