|US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (Photo: VNA)
In his speech, Esper shared about his trips to the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam after attending the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting in Thailand. During Esper’s meetings with his counterparts, they highlighted the need to maintain order in line with international law to bring security and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific amid rising challenges.
He emphasised that the US wants a strong, independent, prosperous Vietnam that plays an increasingly important role in the Indo-Pacific region, and spoke highly of strong development steps in bilateral ties in various areas since the normalisation of Vietnam – US relations.
Stressing that defence ties continue to be a highlight in bilateral relations, he committed to continue working closely with Vietnam to step up the practical and effective development of the bilateral relationship in the near future, especially in maritime security, the United Nations peacekeeping mission, humanitarian assistance, and search and rescue operations.
According to him, cooperation in the settlement of post-war consequences will continue to be a focus and foundation of bilateral defence relations, with the US’s further support for Vietnam in dioxin clean-up at hotspots as well as bomb and mine clearance.
Esper highly valued Vietnam’s efforts in helping with the search for US servicemen missing in action during the war, affirming that the US pledges to assist Vietnam in searching Vietnamese soldiers laying down their lives during the war.
On regional and global issues, he affirmed the US’s long-term support for a free and open Indo-Pacific and the US’s commitments to maintaining order based on rules to promote peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region, including supporting countries’ right to exploit natural resources in their exclusive economic zones.
About the East Sea issues, Esper reaffirmed the US’s support for the settlement of disputes in the East Sea through peaceful measures in line with international law.
Hailing Vietnam’s increasing role in assuming the role of ASEAN Chair 2020, he committed the US’s support for Vietnam to fulfill its assigned tasks as well as ASEAN’s central role and solidarity, and the ASEAN – US strategic partnership.
Following his speech, Esper held an exchange with more than 200 Vietnamese students and scholars and answered questions regarding the Vietnam – US bilateral ties as well as regional and global issues.