U.S. Embassy in Vietnam
U.S. – Vietnam Relations
The United States established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1950, following its limited independence within the French Union; France continued to oversee Vietnam’s defense and foreign policy. In 1954, Vietnamese nationalists fighting for full independence defeated France, and the now-divided Vietnam entered into two decades of civil war. The United States did not recognize North Vietnam’s government, maintaining the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam, supporting the South against the North, and entering the war on the South’s side. In 1975, the United States closed its Embassy and evacuated all Embassy personnel just prior to South Vietnam’s surrender to North Vietnamese forces.
Vietnam was reunified under communist rule. In 1978, it invaded Cambodia following border clashes. U.S. policy held that normalization of its relations with Vietnam be based on withdrawal of the Vietnamese military from Cambodia as part of a comprehensive political settlement and on continued cooperation on prisoner of war/missing in action (POW/MIA) issues and other humanitarian concerns. In 1995, the United States announced the formal normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. In 2015, the United States and Vietnam marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and in May 2016, President Obama visited Vietnam to celebrate the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries. In May 2017, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited the United States to discuss opportunities to further strengthen the Comprehensive Partnership.
The United States supports a strong, independent, and prosperous Vietnam that respects human rights and the rule of law. U.S. relations with Vietnam have become increasingly cooperative and comprehensive, guided by the 2013 U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, an overarching framework for advancing the bilateral relationship, the 2015 bilateral Joint Vision Statement, and the Joint Statement issued during Vietnamese Prime Minister Phuc’s visit to the United States in May 2017. This partnership underscores the enduring U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific and provides a mechanism to facilitate cooperation in areas including political and diplomatic relations, trade and economic ties, defense and security, science and technology, education and training, environment and health, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, war legacy issues, protection and promotion of human rights, people-to-people ties, and culture, sports, and tourism. The United States supports Vietnam’s law enforcement professionalization, regional cross-border cooperation, and implementation of international conventions and standards. Vietnam is a partner in nonproliferation regimes, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and takes advantage of expertise, equipment, and training available under the Export Control and Related Border Security program. In 2016, the United States and Vietnam signed a letter of agreement to increase cooperation on law enforcement and the justice sector and the two countries are working jointly to implement the agreement. The United States and Vietnam hold annual dialogues on labor and human rights.
The United States considers achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans missing and unaccounted for in Indochina to be one of its highest priorities with Vietnam. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducts four major investigation and recovery periods a year in Vietnam, during which specially trained U.S. military and civilian personnel investigate and excavate hundreds of cases in pursuit of the fullest possible accounting. Vietnamese-led recovery teams have become regular participants in these recovery missions since August 2011.
Vietnam remains heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war, primarily in the form of unexploded ordnance (UXO) including extensive contamination by cluster munitions dating from the war with the United States. The United States is the largest single donor to UXO/mine action in Vietnam, and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on continued unexploded ordnance cooperation in December 2013. U.S. efforts to address legacy issues such as UXO/demining, MIA accounting, and remediation of Agent Orange (a defoliant used by U.S. forces) provided the foundations for the U.S.-Vietnam defense relationship. The United States and Vietnam are committed to strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation in 2011 and the U.S.-Vietnam Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations signed in 2015, giving priority to humanitarian cooperation, war legacy issues, maritime security, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Many of these topics are discussed in annual bilateral defense discussions. In May 2016, the United States fully lifted its ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam and continued to provide Vietnam with maritime security assistance – including through the Maritime Security Initiative, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, and Foreign Military Financing. In 2017, the United States transferred a Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter to help improve Vietnam’s law enforcement capabilities. Also in 2017, the United States and Vietnam established a working group for the Cooperative Humanitarian and Medical Storage Initiative, which will advance cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The United States reaffirmed its support for Vietnam’s peacekeeping efforts with an aim of assisting Vietnam’s first deployment of UN peacekeeping forces by 2018.
U.S.-Vietnam people-to-people ties have flourished. Nearly 21,000 Vietnamese now study in the United States. The new Fulbright University Vietnam, which matriculated its first cohort in Fall 2017, will help bring world-class, independent education to Vietnam. Over 21,000 Vietnamese are members of the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative. The United States and Vietnam signed a Peace Corps country agreement in 2016.See more