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US Congress subcommittee hears relations with VN VNTimes

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The Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific under the US House Committee onForeign Affairs on June 5 held hearing on the US relations withVietnam, under the chair of Congressman Steven Chabot, Chairman of theSubcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.

They heard thetestimony of Joseph Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary of State in theBureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Daniel Baer, DeputyAssistance Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rightsand Labour.


In his testimony Joseph Yun affirmedthat the US’ bilateral relationship with Vietnam is “developinginto an important emerging partnership” built on the common interest in astable, secure and prosperous Asia-Pacific.


Sincethe two countries normalised their diplomatic relations in 1995, theircooperation in all fields has enjoyed a fine development, especiallytwo-way trade hitting 25 billion USD each year and the US’ directinvestment in Vietnam reaching more than 10 billion USD.


Inthe time to come, both countries will continue boosting theestablishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), thus helping themexpand their markets, Yun said.


He affirmed thatthe two sides’ cooperation on regional issues has deepened remarkably,especially within the framework of ASEAN and other multilateral forumsto encourage discussion of maritime security, humanitarian assistanceand disaster relief issues facing the region.


“TheUS also supports the efforts by Vietnam and other ASEAN membercountries to negotiate with China about a Code of Conduct in theEast Sea (COC) and to solve disputes through diplomatic or otherpeaceful means in accordance with international law, including asreflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Yun said.


Southeast Asia’s prosperity is based on continued stability,particularly in the East Sea , the US diplomat said, adding thathis country supports regional efforts to manage these disputes withoutthe use of force or coercion.


The two countries arecooperating more closely in regional and global security issues as theyshare a common interest in maintaining peace and security in SoutheastAsia and, more broadly, in the Asia-Pacific.


Yun also notedthat the US appreciates Vietnam’s commitment to non-proliferationand as Vietnam sits along vital shipping routes, the US is workingwith the country to enhance its maritime domain awareness so that itcan become an even stronger and more effective partner in counteringnarcotics smuggling and piracy.


The two countries arepromoting military-to-military exchange and conducting joint training insearch and rescue and disaster relief, the official reckoned.


“The US welcomes Vietnam’s plans to deploy its first troopsoverseas in support of United Nations peacekeeping mission by 2014. Tohelp with this effort, the US is providing broad-based professionalmilitary education to the Vietnamese military to help them prepare forthese missions”, the US diplomat said.


In histestimony, Yun also reviewed cooperation between the two countries inPOW/MIA issues. As of April, 2013, 693 sets of remains of the USsoldiers missing during the war in Vietnam were repatriated for burialin the US. The US also commits to helping Vietnam resolve theproblem of unexploded ordnance (UXO).


According toYun, addressing dioxin contamination is the most challenging issues ofall associated with the war. Last August, the US Agency forInternational Development broke ground on its project to remediate thedioxin hotspot at the former US airbase in Da Nang city, which isone of the most expensive and complex remediation efforts the Governmenthas ever conducted overseas.


The US’ forward-lookingrelationship with Vietnam manifests clearly most in their blossomingpeople-to-people relationships.


“We believe building theseconnections through exchange opportunities, cultural enrichment, andeducational ties is key to establishing a broader partnership withVietnam’s people,” Yun stressed.


He cited the current number of15,000 Vietnamese students studying in the US this year, saying thismakes Vietnam the eighth-largest sender of foreign students to USschools and demonstrates a dramatic change from 1995 when only 800Vietnamese students were learning in the US.


The diplomatalso talked about debates on amendments to the Constitution in Vietnam,stating that the US respects Vietnam’s independence andsovereignty, and highlighted the vital role that Vietnamese-Americansare playing in Vietnam’s development and the bilateral relationship.


Presentat the event, Congressman Eni Faleomaveaga spoke of heavy warconsequences in Vietnam, especially Agent Orange and UXO issues, andasked the US Government and Congress to take partial responsibility tohelp the country address those consequences.-VNA







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