U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Vietnam from April 14 to 16, 2023

Vietnam is one of the United States’ most important partners in the region and the upcoming visit by US State Secretary Antony Blinken seeks to take the partnership to next level, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian & Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink has said.

Kritenbrink, who also served as the US Ambassador to Vietnam for the 2017-21 term, was speaking during a recent press briefing via teleconference ahead of the US State Secretary's trip to Vietnam and Japan on April 14-18.

In Hanoi, Secretary Blinken will meet with senior officials to build on the momentum of US President Joe Biden’s call with Vietnamese General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong late last month, he noted.

Blinken is also scheduled to break ground on the US new embassy campus in Hanoi, which is located on a 3.2ha land lot in Cau Giay District, with total investment around US$1.2 billion.

New symbol of Vietnam-U.S. relations

The current U.S. Embassy is situated at 7 Lang Ha Street in Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. 

During U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Vietnam in August 2021, the terms on the location and land-leasing period of the new embassy were announced.

According to the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, the new building, which will cost over VND28 trillion, will be one of the United States’ most expensive embassies in the world.

The new embassy will lie near Cau Giay Park in the middle of the capital city, with the block design inspired by Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO-listed natural heritage site in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam.

The design of the surrounding area and landscape is inspired by farming and rice growing, like the terrain of the Mekong Delta and Red River regions. 

“Surprisingly, fewer than 30 years after the relationship normalization and the establishment of the first embassy in Hanoi in 1995, we continue to develop a new symbol representing the United States’ commitments to the long-lasting partnership and friendship with Vietnam,” stated Kritenbrink.

An artist’s impression of the new U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. Photo: Supplied by the U.S. Embassy

Seeing Vietnam as reliable partner

“U.S. Secretary of State Blinken will meet high-ranking officials of Vietnam to continue discussions associated with the phone talk between U.S. President Joe Biden and Vietnam’s Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong in late March," Kritenbrink said.

“He will also sit in on a ceremony to break ground for the new U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, which is very dear to my heart as a former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.”

The former U.S. ambassador confirmed that the terms of a deal to construct the new embassy were approved by the United States and Vietnam a few hours before this press briefing.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken’s visit is also aimed at marking 10 years of Hanoi and Washington's comprehensive partnership.

Speaking of the importance of Vietnam, Kritenbrink said that the Southeast Asian country supports the world’s security based on international standards.

Many major U.S. enterprises are expanding their reach in Vietnam.

Vietnam also plays a key role in global supply chains, he added.

“We consider Vietnam the United States’ reliable partner in the Mekong region, which encompasses Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China, a leader of Southeast Asia, and a key member of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,” said the Assistant Secretary of State.

“It is amazing to think that less than 30 years after normalising relations and moving into our first embassy in Hanoi in 1995, we will now be putting shovels into the ground to begin building a stunning new symbol of the US commitment to our enduring partnership and friendship with Vietnam,” Kritenbrink said.

He thanked the Vietnamese partners for signing the conditions of the construction agreement on the year that the two sides celebrate the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive partnership.

The official lauded the progress in the advancement of the relationship between the two sides, the foundation of which has been built by addressing the legacies of war.

He added: “And while those efforts continue, of course, to be an important part of our friendship, we today enjoy a future-oriented partnership that does so much more, including promoting regional security and prosperity as we work together to build and sustain a stronger, more resilient, and more dynamic future for Americans and Vietnamese.”

The US views Vietnam as a trusted partner in the Mekong region, a leader within ASEAN and an important member of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, he said, underlining how the US has now become one of Vietnam’s key trading partners.

“The US is now Vietnam’s number-one export market, and Vietnam is our eighth largest trading partner in goods. Many major US multinational companies are expanding their footprints in Vietnam, and Vietnamese companies are building their presence in the US as well,” Kritenbrink said, adding that Vietnam has become a key link in the global supply chain.

Vietnam is the leader in the region, not only in encouraging new economic initiatives but also in confronting the climate crisis, the Assistant Secretary added, recalling how President Biden stressed to General Secretary Trọng the US desire to cooperate with Vietnam on its ambitious climate goals.

The US official touched on the “robust security relationship” between the two sides, demonstrated by the naval ship visits and the large amount of security assistance that is provided to both the Vietnamese military and the coast guard and law enforcement entities to build Vietnam‘s capacity.

He stressed the broad-based, future-oriented nature of the partnership – including other aspects like healthcare issues, human rights, people-to-people ties, and education – that would benefit both countries and peoples.

On the efforts to upgrade diplomatic ties to a strategic partnership at the moment, the US official said that “there’s not anything to really say or announce today,” but stressed that “whatever label or bumper sticker you want to put on the relationship, there’s no doubt that this partnership we’ve built with Việt Nam is robust, it’s incredibly diverse and broad-ranging.”

The US official is also optimistic about Vietnam -US relations’ future, and remarked that Washington and Hanoi are “almost completely aligned on the kind of Indo-Pacific that we want to see and in which we want to reside – a region that’s free and open, where all countries large and small play by the same rules, where large countries don’t bully small ones, where countries trade freely but also fairly, and where disputes are resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.” 

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken will pay a visit to Vietnam from April 14 to 16 at the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The U.S. diplomat will partake in the main activities on April 15, including the meetings with the senior officials of the Vietnamese government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Blinken will leave Vietnam for Japan to attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting from April 16 to 18