PRIME MINISTER PHAM: (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, I am delighted to welcome you to Vietnam and to see you again here in my country, and I highly appreciate your arrangement of your time for this visit. It is a – I do believe that this visit was previously arranged for last year, however due to the conditions on both sides it cannot take place until now.
And I very much wish to welcome you to Vietnam at a time when we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of our Vietnam-U.S. Comprehensive Partnership. And we can be satisfied with what we have achieved thus far and the time to come.
After the phone call between General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Joe Biden, we are tasking relevant authorities to work with their American counterparts to work on the contents of this phone call, the outcomes of this phone call, looking towards further strengthening and further elevating our bilateral ties to a new height, especially given the importance of said phone call.
We also highly appreciate the efforts of yourself personally and of the Department of State of the U.S. in bolstering the relationship between our two countries to this day. And I wish to thank the Department of State and you personally helping arrange the important phone call between General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Joe Biden, which has yielded great success.
Our two governments have also signed an agreement on the conditions for renovating, constructing, and maintaining diplomatic sites, otherwise known as the Conditions for Construction Agreement, the COCA. And it gives me great pleasure that you will be attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the new building of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have been instructing relevant authorities to make every effort in expediting these endeavors, and of course I have been working with your ambassador, Mr. Marc Knapper, who has also been very active in said efforts. We are striving always to – and I think we have fundamentally – meet the requirements, the demands made by the U.S. for the groundbreaking ceremony to be convened today.
When it comes to our bilateral ties, we note with satisfaction that we have been able to further bolster our relationship, be it in terms of the diplomacy, politics, economic cooperation, among others. It has been a very comprehensive and effective relationship. And going forward, we must continue to deepen said relations.
We highly appreciate the role and responsibility of the U.S. towards the Asia Pacific, or, in a larger scheme, the Indo-Pacific.
We very much appreciate the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with arguably the largest amount of vaccines and medical equipment, especially during times of hardship. It was thanks to the support of friends and partners, including the U.S., that we were able to contain the pandemic and soon reopen our economy. Last year, we recorded GDP growth of over 8 percent, a trade turnover of $USD 732 billion and a disbursement of FDI of over $22 billion – highest thus far.
And when it comes to other activities, they were also duly promoted. And the two foreign ministries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, and the Department of State of the U.S., as well as our two ambassadors, have actively promoted such efforts.
When it comes to work in other fields, I do believe we can say with satisfaction that people-to-people exchange or technological cooperation or delegation exchanges, especially at the high level, is regularly maintained. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic we have received high-level officials from the U.S. and other secretaries as well.
And I wish to hear from you, Mr. Secretary of State.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Prime Minister, thank you so much for receiving us. It’s very, very good to see you again, and I have to say it’s a great personal pleasure for me to be back in Vietnam. I was here on two occasions when I was deputy secretary of state for President Obama, but I was very much looking forward to being back here as Secretary of State.
And while there may be a little fog today, I think the sun has been shining on our relationship. We’ve seen, as you said, through 10 years of our Comprehensive Partnership extraordinary growth in the relationship in so many areas that are benefitting people in both Vietnam and the United States, and I think we now hope to be able to take it to an even higher, higher level: deepening even further the economic partnership; working on issues that really matter to our people, from dealing with climate change, to finding new renewable sources of energy, to building more resilient supply chains. All of these things and more, I think, are front and center on the agenda.
President Biden deeply valued the call with the general secretary and asked me to again extend his appreciation to you, to the general secretary when I’ll have a chance to see him later today. And we are very gratified to be able to move forward with the new embassy compound. I brought my shovel with me, so we’re ready. (Laughter.)
But we also just very much appreciate, Prime Minister, the very good working relationship we have with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the people across the government, and we’re grateful for your hospitality today. Thank you.