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Remarks Following a Meeting With President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam

July 25, 2013

President Obama. Well, it is my pleasure to welcome President Truong Tan Sang to the White House and to the Oval Office for his first bilateral meeting with me. This represents the steady progression and strengthening of the relationship between our two countries.

Obviously, we all recognize the extraordinarily complex history between the United States and Vietnam. But step by step, what we have been able to establish is a degree of mutual respect and trust that has allowed us now to announce a comprehensive partnership between our two countries that will allow even greater cooperation on a whole range of issues, from trade and commerce to military-to-military cooperation, to multilateral work on issues like disaster relief, to scientific and educational exchanges.

What we've also discussed is the ways in which, through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, both the United States and Vietnam are participating in what will be an extraordinarily ambitious effort to increase trade, commerce, and transparency in terms of commercial relationships throughout the Asia-Pacific region. And we're committed to the ambitious of goal of completing this agreement before the end of the year because we know that this can create jobs and increase investment across the region and in both of our countries.

We discussed the need for continued efforts to resolve peacefully maritime issues that have surfaced in the South China Sea and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region. And we very much appreciate Vietnam's commitment to working with ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in order for us to arrive at codes of conduct that will help to resolve these issues peacefully and fairly.

We discussed the challenges that all of us face when it comes to issues of human rights, and we emphasized how the United States continues to believe that all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. And we had a very candid conversation about both the progress that Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain.

We both reaffirmed the efforts that have been made to deal with war legacy issues. We very much appreciate Vietnam's continued cooperation as we try to recover our missing in action and those that were lost during the course of the war. And I reaffirmed the United States commitment to work with Vietnam around some of the environmental and health issues that have continued decades later because of the war.

And finally, we agreed that one of the great sources of strength between our two countries is the Vietnamese American population that is here, but obviously has continued strong ties to Vietnam. And ultimately, it's those people-to-people relations that are the glue that can strengthen the relationship between any two countries.

So I just want to say to President Sang how much I appreciate his visit. I think it signifies the maturing and the next stage of the development between the United States and Vietnam. As we increase consultations, increase cooperation, increase trade and scientific and education exchanges, ultimately, that's going to be good for the prosperity and opportunities of the people here in the United States, as well as good for the opportunities and prosperity of the people of Vietnam.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that, even if it's 67 years later, it's good that we're still making progress.

Thank you very much for your visit. And I look forward to continued work together. Thank you so much.

President Sang. President Obama, ladies and gentlemen, once again, I would like to thank you, President Obama, for your kind invitation extended to me to visit the United States, as well as the warm hospitality that you have extended to me over the past couple of days while I'm here in the U.S.

To be frank, President Obama and I had a very candid, open, useful, and constructive discussion. Given the progress of our bilateral relationship over the past 18 years, it is time now to form a comprehensive partnership in order to further strengthen our relations in various areas.

We discussed various matters, including political relations, science and technology, education, defense, the war—the legacy of the war issue, environment, the American—the Vietnamese American community, human rights as well. And the East Sea as well, I'm sorry.

In this—in a candid, open, and productive—constructive spirit, we have come to agree on many issues. We will strengthen high-level exchanges between the two countries. We will consider in order to continue our—to upgrade the mechanism of cooperation at the high level, as well as take the best use of the existing mechanism of cooperation. Particularly, we will continue regular dialogue at the highest level as possible. I believe that this is a way in order to build a political trust for further development of our cooperation in all areas.

Economic and trade relations continue to be important to our relations. As far as TPP is concerned, the Vietnamese side will do its utmost in order to participate in the process of negotiations for the conclusion of TPP by the end of this year.

We also discussed in detail our cooperation in science and technology, in education and training, as well as security and defense. We also touched upon the war legacy issues, including human rights, which we still remain—which we still have differences on the issue.

We also—I also expressed my appreciation for the care that the U.S. has extended to the Vietnamese who came to settle in the United States, and now they have become American citizens and contributing to the overall development of the U.S. And thanks to the support and assistance from the U.S. Government, as well as the American people, the Vietnamese community—the Vietnamese American community here in the U.S. has become more and more prosperous and successful in their life as well as work—at work.

And I also would like to take this opportunity to express a message from—to convey a message from our Government to the Vietnamese American community here in the U.S. that we would like to see you contributing more and more to the friendship between our two countries as well as further development of our relationship in the future.

We also talked—discussed in detail the issue of the East Sea. We appreciate and will welcome the U.S. support for our stance in this matter, as well as the stance of ASEAN relating to this particular matter, and we appreciate the U.S. support to solving the matter by peaceful means in accordance with international law, DOC, and moving toward to COC. We welcome the United States support, as well as other countries' support, in the matter in order to ensure the peace, stability, prosperity, not only in the East Sea, but also in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Last but not least, I also, on behalf of our Government and our state, to extend to President Obama our invitation to visit Vietnam. And President Obama has accepted invitation and will try his best to pay a visit, at least by the end—before the end of his term.

Actually, I would like to correct my translation a little bit. And President Obama has accepted our invitation and will try his best to pay a visit to Vietnam during this term—during his term.

And once again, I would like to thank President Obama and all of the American people for their warm hospitality extended to me during this trip to the United States. And I believe that our cooperation will continue to strengthen for the mutual interest and benefit of our people.

Thank you.

President Obama. Thank you very much, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:30 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, President Sang referred to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). President Sang spoke in Vietnamese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Barack Obama, Remarks Following a Meeting With President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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