US envoy says ties with Vietnam at ‘all-time high’

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Kritenbrink, clarified that his visit was not linked to Putin’s recent presence in Vietnam….reports Asian Lite News

A senior US diplomat engaged in talks in Vietnam on Saturday, emphasizing the robust state of bilateral relations, which he described as being at an “all-time high,” despite recent events surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Hanoi, media reported.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Kritenbrink, clarified that his visit was not linked to Putin’s recent presence in Vietnam.

He highlighted Vietnam’s decision last year to elevate the United States to the status of a comprehensive strategic partner, a move that positions the US alongside China and Russia in Vietnam’s diplomatic priorities, according to Associated Press report.

This elevation underscores Vietnam’s strategy to diversify its international relationships amidst global shifts in supply chain dynamics away from China.

Speaking at a media briefing in Hanoi, Kritenbrink underscored the importance of his trip, emphasizing that the partnership between the US and Vietnam remains a primary focus.

While acknowledging concerns raised by the US Embassy in Hanoi over Putin’s visit, particularly amidst Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Kritenbrink reaffirmed his discussions with Vietnamese officials focused on strengthening bilateral ties, AP reported.

Highlighting economic relations, Kritenbrink noted that trade between Vietnam and the US reached $111 billion in 2023, significantly surpassing Vietnam’s trade with Russia, which stood at $3.6 billion during the same period.

He acknowledged Russia’s historical ties and ongoing defense cooperation with Vietnam, noting its role in supporting Vietnam’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea through technology and defense supplies.

Addressing regional security concerns, Kritenbrink expressed apprehension over China’s assertive actions in the South China Sea, describing them as a source of significant regional and global concern.

The ongoing territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian nations have long been viewed as potential flashpoints, with implications for broader US-China relations.

In response to recent tensions between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, Kritenbrink emphasized US support for its ally, highlighting the “ironclad” defence treaties between the US and the Philippines. He criticized China’s actions as irresponsible, aggressive, and destabilizing, particularly concerning recent incidents near the Second Thomas Shoal involving Philippine navy vessels.

Vietnam’s diplomatic overtures, including its readiness to engage in talks with the Philippines to resolve territorial disputes peacefully, contrast sharply with China’s approach, according to Kritenbrink.

He reiterated US commitments to regional stability and security, underscoring the importance of upholding international law and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms in the South China Sea, it was reported.

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