Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, and Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi on Monday. Secretary Carter signed a joint vision statement for the bilateral defense relationship following his meeting with Minister Thanh, and discussed defense cooperation and regional security issues in all of his meetings.
Secretary Carter reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region, reiterating the United States' support for a regional architecture that allows all countries in the Asia-Pacific to rise and prosper. The secretary noted that this year is the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Secretary Carter reflected on the great progress made in the last 20 years and expressed his hope that the next 20 years will see a similar strengthening of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship.
In his meetings, Secretary Carter discussed progress on legacy of war issues, support for Vietnamese peacekeeping training and operations, and cooperation on search-and-rescue and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Secretary Carter and his counterparts expressed a desire to leverage the joint vision statement to open the door to greater military to military cooperation that would allow the United States and Vietnam to more effectively work together to promote regional and global security.
Secretary Carter also discussed maritime security issues and the South China Sea, with Secretary Carter pledging continued U.S. support to build Vietnamese maritime security capacity and reiterating the United States' commitment to a peaceful resolution to disputed claims there made in accordance with international law. The secretary also encouraged Vietnam to agree to a permanent halt to land reclamation activity and further militarization of outposts in the South China Sea.