In the meeting with John McAuliff and group of U.S. who have helped support Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, PM Chinh said other than future-looking items of bilateral cooperation, the Vietnamese delegation has also discussed with the U.S. side on the handling of war consequences that still haunt Vietnam to this day.
There are still three million people suffering from the impacts of Agent Orange, not to even mention the risks of continuing diseases and deformities afflicting future generations, the millions of hectares of contaminated lands, he said. As many as 200,000 Vietnamese martyrs have still not been found, while unexploded bombs and mines continue to threaten the safety and livelihoods of many Vietnamese people.
The Vietnamese Government leader expressed gratitude for McAuliff and American friends who have supported Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and assisted Vietnam in handling war consequences.
For his part, McAuliff thanked PM Pham Minh Chinh in particular and Vietnam in general for the goodwill to put aside the past and look toward the future, and for the cooperation between the two countries in handling war consequences – including the search for U.S. persons missing in action (MIAs) in the war in Vietnam, which has contributed to the healing process.
The PM hoped the American friends to have more robust, effective measures and practical programs to address the most urgent issues in handling war legacies – including the decontamination of Bien Hoa airbase, livelihood support for the Agent Orange victims, support for genetic analysis to identify martyrs, and especially inspiring younger generations to continue their works – in coordination with the Vietnamese agencies through the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The same day, PM Chinh also met a number of close friends with Vietnam, who have made active contributions and always supported Vietnam during the war as well as during present nation-building efforts.
Attending the meeting were Merle Ratner and some colleagues who are co-founders and coordinators of an organisation that advocates for relief and responsibility for victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam; Jay Johnson, who used to join the first group of U.S. soldiers to resist the draft to be sent to fight in Vietnam and was sentenced to 28 months in prison; Susan Schnall, a former U.S. Navy nurse, who with her husband used a plane to drop leaflets calling on soldiers to resist the order to deploy to Vietnam, as well as some active members of left-wing movements in the U.S.
American friends expressed their impression with Vietnam's great achievements after 35 years of doi moi (reforms), announced a number of activities being carried out to continue supporting Vietnam, and had discussed with the Vietnamese leader on the situation in Vietnam, the region and the world.
PM Chinh stated that Vietnam steadfastly pursues the path of national independence and Socialism, striving to become a prosperous, strong, democratic nation with equitable, civilized society.
Vietnam consistently implements the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, for peace, friendship, cooperation and development, multilateralization and diversification of foreign relations, PM Chinh said, adding that Vietnam seeks to be a good friend, a reliable partner and an active and responsible member of the international community.
Vietnam and the U.S. have put aside past, and have been working together to advance ties across all areas, on the basis of respecting each other's political institutions, territorial integrity and sovereignty, he noted.
One of the pillars in the bilateral relationship is economy, trade, and investment. In 2021, Vietnam – U.S. reached 112 billion USD, accounting for nearly one third of the total U.S. – ASEAN trade at 362 billion USD, and enjoying an annual growth of 17-20 percent.
Informing the American friends of the current situation in Vietnam, which has successfully controlled COVID-19 and is engaging in robust socio-economic recovery, the Vietnamese Government sent his regards to the American people's support for Vietnam during war and normalization of ties, and asking them to continue to advocate and contribute to bilateral cooperation for the sake of peace, cooperation and development of the two countries.
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