On August 8 morning, an official reception for the Vietnamese Defense Minister and the visiting delegation was held at the US Defense Department Headquarters.
At the bilateral talks held after the reception, the two defense ministers hailed the fruitful results of bilateral cooperation in the past time within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation and Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations, in which the two sides focus on delegation exchange; personnel training cooperation; consultation and dialogue; maritime security; search, rescue and disaster relief; cooperation on overcoming the aftermath of war, including clearing bombs, mines and explosives left by the war, cleaning dioxin-contaminated soil and searching servicemen missing in action; and cooperation on preparing personnel for UN peacekeeping operations.
The two sides believed that good results of bilateral defense cooperation over the past time have promoted mutual trust and friendship between the two peoples and armies. The two ministers agreed on major measures to bolster defense cooperation in the coming time, in line with the agreements between the two countries' leaders as well as deals inked by the two sides.
Speaking at the talks, visiting Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich thanked the US side for the solemn reception for the Vietnamese delegation. He reaffirmed that Vietnam is a reliable partner of all countries in the international community, pursuing a foreign policy on self-reliance, multi-lateralization and diversification. In its national construction and defense cause, Vietnam strives to build a self-defense that can firmly protect national freedom, sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity.
The visiting defense minister also said that Vietnam always considers the US one of its most important partners and gives priority to developing bilateral relations with the US on the basis of equality, respect for each other's political system, freedom, sovereignty, and territorial unity and integrity. General Lich took this chance to appreciate US cooperation with the Vietnam Coast Guard on maritime security, and its support for Vietnam in preparing efforts and assets for UN peacekeeping operations.
Regarding future defense cooperation, the two ministers agreed to expand cooperation in line with the deals signed by the two sides with a focus on overcoming war consequences in Vietnam, and responding to non-traditional security issues.
Regarding cleaning dioxin contaminated soil in Vietnam, General Lich informed that the two sides have finished the first phase of the project to detoxify Da Nang airport and are gearing up the second phase so as to wrap up the whole project before the 2017 APEC Summit Week, to be held in Da Nang city in November. The two sides are also surveying Bien Hoa airport to work on a project to clean dioxin pollution there.
At the talks, the two defense ministers were discussing issues relating to the first-ever visit of a US aircraft carrier to Vietnam and agreed to entrust relevant agencies and units of the two sides to further consider technical conditions and other issues involving the visit.
For his part, US Defense Secretary James Mattis highly valued Vietnam's increasing role and status in the region, and thanked the Vietnamese side for its effective cooperation on searching and repatriating US servicemen missing in action (MIA). He also pledged to support the Vietnamese side in searching Vietnamese troops missing in action and cleaning dioxin in Bien Hoa airport.
At the meeting, Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich handed over new documents on the locations of US servicemen missing in action to the US Defense Secretary. Based on the documents, the two sides would organize a joint searching mission in Vietnam in the time to come.
Later in the afternoon, Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and his entourage visited the US Coast Guard Command.
Translated by Thu Nguyen
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