On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I would like to congratulate the Vietnamese people as they celebrate Vietnam’s National Day on September 2.
In July, I visited Hanoi on my third trip to Vietnam as Secretary of State. This visit celebrated the progress we have made together in the 17 years since we normalized diplomatic relations. Our trade relationship has grown from almost nothing in 1995 to nearly $22 billion annually, and we continue to deepen our economic cooperation. We are working together on a wide range of issues, from promoting maritime security to improving public health and providing disaster relief, while forthrightly addressing the need for greater protection of human rights, including religious freedom.
This year we also mark the 20th anniversary of our Fulbright program in Vietnam, which has brought many of Vietnam’s current and future leaders to study in the United States. Nearly 15,000 Vietnamese students are now attending colleges and universities in the United States, and that number continues to grow, increasing mutual understanding between our two countries.
In the coming year we will work to expand these people-to-people exchanges. We will continue our dialogue to promote human rights, and we will expand our cooperation on trade, health, and environmental challenges. We are committed to strengthening the strategic relationship between our countries based on mutual respect and our common desire to foster peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific.
On this festive occasion, I wish all Vietnamese people peace and prosperity in the coming year.