PRESIDENT PHÚC: (As interpreted.) Good morning, everyone. Madam Kamala Devi Harris, Vice President of the United States of America; distinguished American and Vietnamese guests: On behalf of the State and people of Vietnam, I extend a very warm welcome to Madam Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. high-level delegation to Vietnam.
Your visit has a very important meaning, as both Vietnam and the United States have recently had the newly elected leadership.
In the solemn and cordial atmosphere of the welcoming ceremony today, we would like to express our special feelings to welcome the first female Vice President of the United States to Vietnam. You are the first African American and the first Asian American to be elected Vice President, and you are also the first Vice President of the U.S. administration to pay a visit to Vietnam. And once again, my warm congratulations to you on that.
I would like to affirm Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation for development, multilateral and diversified relations, and active contribution to peace, stability, and development in the region and the world.
As part of this process, Vietnam always views the United States as one of our most important partners. Looking back on the past 25 years, we are delighted to note that thanks to the tireless efforts of both sides, the Vietnam-U.S. Comprehensive Partnership has been flourishing, creating greater substance and effectiveness across all areas of bilateral, regional, and global cooperation.
Vietnam desires to work jointly with the United States to further deepen the Comprehensive Partnership to promote more substantive, fruitful, long-lasting, and sustainable bilateral ties; build and strengthen mutual trust; and create the foundation for both sides to enhance, exchange, and cooperation for mutual benefits based on mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political regime of each country.
On behalf of the State and the people of Vietnam, I extend my sincere thanks to President Joe Biden and the U.S. government and people for your support in supplying COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, and a large number of medical equipment and medical supplies to Vietnam.
This assistance is truly valuable and meaningful to Vietnam at the time when we are facing with ample difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. And I’m convinced that the visit to Vietnam by Madam Vice President Kamala Harris will lay an important foundation for the two countries to engage in more productive cooperation for the robust growth of the Comprehensive Partnership. And we stand ready to make your visit to Vietnam a great success.
And, Madam Vice President, let me introduce members of the Vietnamese delegation.
On my right is Mr. Bùi Thanh Sơn, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Professor Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Public Health; Lieutenant General Hoàng Xuân Chiến, Minister of — Vice Minister of Defense; Professor Lê Quốc Doanh, Vice Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Lê Khánh Hải, Chairman of the Government — of the State President’s Office; Mr. Nguyễn Hồng Diên, Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr. Lương Tam Quang, Vice Minister of Public Security; and Mr. Bui Huy Hung, my assistant.
I now would like to give the floor to Madam Vice President.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. President. It is my honor to be the first Vice President of the United States to visit Vietnam in the last quarter of a century. And I’m looking very much forward to a productive conversation that is focused on strengthening the relationship between the United States and Vietnam, and expressing our continuing support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.
Our relationship has come a long way in a quarter of a century. We have managed programs that deal with our war legacy issues; growing economic ties; shared principles, like upholding rule-based international order; and jointly addressing global challenges, such as the pandemic and the climate crisis.
Our partnership has produced tangible results. During my visit, we will open a Peace Corps office. We will sign a new lease for the United States Embassy. And we will formally launch our Center for Disease Control — CDC’s — Southeast Asia regional office. All of these as symbols of our enduring relationship with Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a member of the Indo-Pacific region.
I would also ask that, while we are here, that we consider doing what we can to upgrade our relationship as a strategic partnership. This will send a positive message to our governments, and our people, and the region as we deepen our relationship.
And I want to thank you for your help in releasing American citizens.
We will work closely with Vietnam to uphold the rule-based international order, including freedom of navigation, an issue that we take seriously, and including as it relates to the South China Sea.
We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims.
We urge Vietnam to support the Joint Statement of Maritime Principles for the Western Pacific that we have proposed. This statement will affirm our collective commitment to upholding freedom of the seas.
I understand that Vietnam recently requested a third former United States Coast Guard cutter, and our administration strongly supports this request, as we want to help Vietnam develop its maritime security capabilities.
The United States also wants to maintain our security cooperation. And let me affirm that the United States Navy will maintain a strong presence in the South China Sea and will continue to challenge Beijing’s bullying and excessive maritime claims.
I thank you.