SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you, everyone, very, very much. This really is a particular pleasure because this has been a day long in the making.
I heard about this project, I think, the first time I was here as deputy secretary from Ambassador Osius, then Ambassador Kritenbrink. Marc, congratulations. (Laughter.) But thank you, in all seriousness, for your extraordinary leadership at a time of tremendous importance.
To my friend the foreign minister, we’re so grateful not just for your presence but for our partnership every single day and for the work that you are instrumental in doing in bringing us to this day.
And to the vice minister, to our colleagues from the city as well, the planning commission, thank you, thank you so much. We’re grateful for this partnership, this collaboration. And it doesn’t take that much imagination – maybe just a little bit – to see what this could be in just a few years’ time, but also to see what it’s going to represent in both symbolic and practical ways for the relationship between our countries.
To everyone who’s here from the Government of Vietnam, from our embassy team, all colleagues past and present: Thank you for all of the hard work that has gone to making this day possible. I know that it took a lot of work.
So in a few moments, we will symbolically break ground on the new embassy campus here in Hanoi.
Years in the making, this is the culmination of dedicated and often very creative engagement between countless Americans and countless Vietnamese diplomats.
And again, that’s something I saw firsthand when I was here in 2015 and 2016 as deputy secretary working together to find the land for the campus.
Now, this groundbreaking – and the new embassy that we’ll build – represents another significant step toward strengthening a vital partnership between our countries and between our people.
Back in 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher came to Hanoi to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. Opening the embassy was a key part of that effort.
Now, back then, things looked a little bit different at the U.S. embassy. There were fewer than 30 American employees. Much of their work was done with a very exciting technology that let them communicate instantly with colleagues around the world: the fax machine.
So we’ve come a little bit of distance from those days. A few things have changed. We have emails. And the small team that opened the embassy back then has grown to include more than 600 American and local staff.
Over the last 27 years, similarly, the ties that connect our countries, Vietnam and the United States, have grown stronger and stronger. And that’s happened in no small part because of our renewed diplomatic presence in Hanoi, because of our exceptional staff – at the embassy, at our consulate in Ho Chi Minh City – who have worked day-in/day-out to forge a relationship that’s robust, that’s dynamic, that’s consequential, and that addresses the needs of the people in both of our countries.
Today, we are, as you’ve head, celebrating 10 years of collaboration through our Comprehensive Partnership. We’ve joined forces on everything from improving public health, to expanding inclusive economic opportunities, to accelerating the clean energy transition.
We’re advancing together a free, open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, one that is at peace and rooted in respect for the rules-based international order. And we’re continuing to work together to address the legacy of the war in Vietnam.
For nearly three decades, our embassy in Hanoi has been at the center of every one of these shared activities, and many more. And what the new facility will enable us to do is to build on that foundation for decades to come, meet modern challenges, and deliver for our people.
It’s going to be eight stories tall. The building will be big enough to bring our entire team together under one roof, enabling both greater collaboration and greater efficiency. We’ll have four times the number of consular windows as our current office, so that we can get visas and passports to more people more quickly. And over an estimated six years of construction, the project will provide good jobs for as many as 1,800 local workers, while adding $350 million to the Vietnamese economy.
What’s also powerful and important is that the embassy is going to reflect a fusion of our cultures and our nations. The complex was designed by an American company, inspired by a mix of Vietnam’s topography and Hanoi’s urban architecture.
The base of the building will be made from basalt – a rock that’s found both in Vietnam and the United States. And the embassy’s construction will embody our countries’ shared commitment to environmental sustainability and resilience. We’re building much of the embassy using recycled materials, and the design will both conserve energy and mitigate the risk of flooding from severe storms.
When Secretary Christopher opened the embassy in Hanoi in 1995, he spoke about building a bridge of cooperation between our nations. But what no one could have anticipated, and what is plainly visible to all today, almost three decades later, is everything that building that bridge has enabled. With this new campus, we will be able to foster still more of those connections and all the relationships, the innovations, the opportunities that come with them.
So this is really a special day. And I was saying to the foreign minister, when the embassy is actually complete and built, I hope both of us are pulled out of our retirements and brought back to help actually open it. Thank you all very much for being here today. (Applause.)