Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right) receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

The host said that Vietnam wants to promote bilateral relations and cooperation in bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political system, contributing to peace, stability, security and development in the region and world.

He hailed the outcomes of the talks held earlier between Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and the visiting US Defense Secretary, as well as the practical outcomes of the bilateral defense cooperation in line with the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership and agreements signed by the two countries’ leaders.

The Vietnamese PM confirmed the Vietnamese Governments support for the bilateral defense ties, suggesting that the two defense organizations should take measures to effectively realize signed agreements, including the joint statements on defense cooperation between the two countries’ leaders.

Vietnam will continue partnering fully and effectively with the US in the search for missing-in-action US servicemen, he pledged.

For his part, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper affirmed, the bilateral defense cooperation is one of the foundations for the development of the US-Vietnam relationship and contributes to peace, stability, freedom of aviation and navigation in the South China Sea (East Sea) as well as to global trade cooperation. He also stressed that the US wants to further expand cooperation with Vietnam, including in the defense field, contributing to peace and stability in the region. He thanked Vietnam for its great effort for the research of missing-in-action US servicemen over the past decades, and affirmed that the US side will continue cooperating effectively in searching for information about missing Vietnamese soldiers, and detoxifying polluted land in Vietnam. The US Defense Secretary also said that the US side is willing to support Vietnam in deploying its personnel and units to UN peacekeeping missions, and to expand bilateral defense cooperation in other fields. 

Stressing the significance of the year 2020 when Vietnam assumes the ASEAN Chair, and the two countries celebrate the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations, the guest said, the US side is willing to provide more support for Vietnam to fulfill its mission. He reaffirmed that the US highly values the comprehensive partnership with Vietnam and is ready to join efforts with Vietnam to promote bilateral relations and cooperation.

The Vietnamese PM suggested that the two sides continue providing mutual consultation and support at multilateral forums, particularly those led by ASEAN, and that the US side supports defense events that the Vietnamese Defense Ministry will host next year.

He expressed his wish to welcome the US President, US Secretary of Defense and other senior officials to important international events hosted by Vietnam as the ASEAN Chair in 2020.

The US Defense Secretary reconfirmed that the US supports Vietnam and ASEAN’s stance on the East Sea issue and will strive to make active contributions to ensuring peace, stability, freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.

Earlier on the morning of November 20, Vietnamese Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich hosted a grand ceremony to officially receive US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and a high-ranking US defense delegation, who are on an official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of the Vietnamese Defense Minister.

Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper review the guard of honor of the Vietnam People's Army

The two defense leaders shake hands before the bilateral talks

At the bilateral talks 

The visit of the US Defense Secretary to Vietnam aimed to roll out contents of defense cooperation deals signed by leaders of the two countries and two defense organizations, promoting friendship and mutual trust between the Vietnam People’s Army and the US Army.

Present at the reception were also top military officers of the Vietnam People’s Army and US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

After the reception, the two defense leaders headed two defense delegations to have talks at the Headquarters of the Vietnamese Defense Ministry.

Speaking at the talks, General Lich warmly welcomed Mr. Mark Esper to Vietnam in his capacity as the US Defense Secretary.

The two sides later exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and both stressed the importance of maintaining a peaceful and stable environment in the region for development. The two top defense officials agreed to boost defense cooperation in a practical and effective manner, contributing to promoting the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership.

Reviewing the bilateral defense cooperation in the past time, the two sides expressed delight at positive developments and good outcomes, meeting the expectations and interests of the people of the two countries. The two sides spoke highly of the outcomes in specific cooperation fields, such as search for missing-in-action servicemen, clearing unexploded ordnance left by the war, detoxifying Orange Agent/dioxin polluted land, participation in UN peacekeeping operations, personnel training, and humanitarian aid.

The two sides agreed to further realize contents of the Memorandum of Understanding to Promote Bilateral Defense Cooperation signed in 2011, Vietnam-US Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations signed in 2015 and Plan of Action for Vietnam-US Defense Cooperation for 2018 to 2020, with a focus on delegation exchange, dialogue and consultation mechanisms, and cooperation in overcoming war legacies.

Particularly, the two sides should conduct the project to detoxify the dioxin-polluted land in Bien Hoa airport, promote cooperation on search, rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. The two sides should also bolster cooperation on maritime security, military medicine, English training, and consider cooperation on defense industry  and participation in US peacekeeping operations.

After the talks, the two top defense officials exchanged documents and belongings related to missing-in-action personnel of the two sides and took a look at photos featuring activities of overcoming war legacies in Vietnam.

Translated by Thu Nguyen