Vietnamese Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh shed light on the result of the recent fourth defence policy dialogue (DPD) between Vietnam and the US in an interview granted to a Washington-based VOV correspondent.
VOV: What were the desired results of this dialogue in comparison with the previous meetings?
Vinh: The fourth dialogue focused on regional and international issues relating to security and national defence of both countries, and a cooperation programme for 2014.
It is notable that the meeting was held after Vietnam and the US establish their comprehensive partnership, and bilateral defence relations should be strengthened correspondingly in the new context.
|Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, who attended the 4th Vietnam-US defence policy dialogue in Washington DC, said the US should pay more attention to dealing with war aftermath in Vietnam
US officials asked me if there is any difference in bilateral defence relations before and after the partnership was established.
In my opinion, we must build strategic trust between the two countries’ top leaders and people in particular.
Vietnamese and US people must boost mutual confidence though we have a complex period of history, but we have a bright future.
A better defence relationship should be based on the efficiency of practical cooperation, including overcoming war aftermath.
VOV: Could you further elaborate on issues and solutions examined during the meeting to foster Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership?
Vinh: The discussed issues were those stated in a memorandum of understanding both countries signed in 2011.
In-depth discussions were focused on overcoming the consequences of the past war, including Agent Orange/dioxin, unexploded ordnance, the search for remains of US personnel missing in action (MIA) and the provision of information about Vietnamese soldiers missing in action.
Another issue of particular concern is cooperation at multilateral forums, especially the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+) starting in 2010. Both sides are satisfied with the result of this cooperation.
Vietnam and the US also agreed to cooperate closely after Vietnam joins the UN peacekeeping operation in 2014.
The US has experience in this field, and its support will benefit Vietnam and the US itself in its Asia-Pacific strategy.
VOV: Vietnam and the US have cooperated closely in the MIA issue over the years. How was the issue touched upon during the dialogue?
Vinh: The US Department of State, Department of Defence, Congress, and people all acknowledged Vietnam’s all-out efforts in addressing the issue, considering the country a role model in overcoming war aftermath.
Wherever we went, American politicians and people thanked the government, agencies and people of Vietnam for helping with the search without any conditions.
Yet, the US should be responsible for providing information about Vietnamese MIA issues, handing over war memorabilia, and addressing UXO consequences.
General speaking, the US has offered Vietnam active cooperation in the issue, but it is not enough as the consequences of war are terrible.
The US has several thousands of soldiers missing in action, while Vietnam has 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers unaccounted for. The US dumped a great deal of bombs and mines on Vietnam during the war, and the clean-up effort may last hundreds of years unless it is intensified.
We hope every US citizen understands and has their voice to the government to promote stronger cooperation in the issue.
During the dialogue, the US agreed to facilitate communication in the public so that both sides will find common ground on the issue.
Better dealing with war issues not only help both sides heal the wounds of war, but open up opportunities for brighter future cooperation.
VOV: During the dialogue, the Vietnam Cost Guard and the US Coast Guard signed a cooperation programme. Could you give a brief on this cooperation?
Vinh: The Vietnam Coast Guard has developed relations with many countries, including the US, since it was established in 1998.
It has joined Coast Guard organisations in Southeast Asia, Asia and the Pacific, and others in the world.
This year, both sides identified a detailed cooperation framework to promote mutual understanding and law enforcement at sea.
I have a strong feeling that the US Coast Guard is enthusiastic about cooperation with its Vietnamese counterpart, because the Vietnamese waters are of international waters and bulk US shipments are transported across this area.
The US will get benefit if peace, stability and marine safety and security is maintained the area.
We also have a similar goal, and out task is to protect and create a marine environment of peace, stability, safety and security in the region.