February 2, 2014

Foreign Pool Report on the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Meeting

White House Press Office Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM
To: Ching-Yi Chang

From: Ching-Yi Chang
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 1:11 PM
Subject: Foreign Pool Report on the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Meeting

  The U.S. President Obama and Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang’s bilateral meeting in the Oval Office is actually longer than expected.

It started at 10:15 AM ET, and ended around 11:30 AM. President Obama was actually scheduled to leave the White House to Florida at 11:30 AM, while your foreign pooler entered the Oval Office exactly at 11:30 AM.   

During President Obama’s fourth bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with ASEAN leaders this year along (he met the leaders from Brunei, Singapore and Burma previously), he touched upon the issues of TPP, South China Sea, human rights, war legacy, Vietnamese American population, and, surprisingly, a story on the letter that Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman.   

 In his about 8 minutes remark, President Obama started with saying, “Obviously we all recognize the extraordinary, complex history between the United States and Vietnam. But step by step, what we have been able to establish is a degree of mutual respect and trust that has allowed us now to announce a comprehensive partnership between our two countries that will allow even greater cooperation.”

The cooperation, President Obama said, are from “trade and commerce to military-to-military cooperation, to multilateral work.” The first issue President Obama brought up is TPP, on which he said, “we're committed to the ambitious goal of completing this agreement before the end of the year.”  

The second issue is the thorny issue of the territorial dispute on South China Sea, President Obama said, “we very much appreciate Vietnam's commitment to working with ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in order for us to arrive at codes of conduct that will help to resolve these issues peacefully and fairly.”

He then briefly talked about the human rights issue, saying that “all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly.” He then moved on to war legacy and Vietnamese American population.

President Obama then concluded his remark with a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman that President Sang shared with him. In the letter, he said, “Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it's 67 years later, it's good that we're still making progress.”
Then it came to President Sang’s remark, it lasted about 8 minutes as well. It’s the first time for him to visit the White House, the second time visiting the U.S., he visited Hawaii in 2011 for APEC summit.
President Sang said they discussed political relations, science and technology, education, defense, the legacy of the war issue, environment, the Vietnamese American community, and human rights issue.

On TPP, President Sang said, “the Vietnamese side will do its utmost in order to participate in the process of negotiations for the conclusion of TPP by the end of this year.”

He then spend some time of American Vietnamese population here, he said he wants to convey a message to them that, “we would like to see you contributing more and more to the friendship between our two countries, as well as further development of our relationship in the future.”

Then President Sang turned his attention to the “East Sea” (the way Vietnamese calls South China Sea), in which, he said, “we welcome the United States' support, as well as other countries' support, in the matter, in order to ensure peace, stability, prosperity not only in the East Sea but also in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.” And finally, there seems to be some “lost in translation”.
President Sang’s interpreter first said, President Sang invited President Obama to Vietnam, and “President Obama has accepted the invitation and will try his best to pay a visit at least before the end of his term. Then President Sang corrected that by saying, “I would like to correct my translation a little bit, and President Obama has accepted our invitation and will try his best to pay a visit to Vietnam during this term”.And that concluded both Presidents’ remarks.

A reporter tried to shout a question, but President Obama didn’t answer, and your pooler accidentally heard President Obama told President Sang, “reporters are the same everywhere!”

In addition, your foreign pooler saw in the Oval Office new NSC advisor Susan Rice, new USTR representative Mike Froman, and new Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. On Vietnam side, Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Head of the Presidential Office Dao Viet Trung, as well as Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang were in the meeting as well.It is worth noting that, President Sang just visited Beijing last month.  
Lastly, in order to show appreciation by finishing reading this pool report, your foreign pooler wants to say “Thank You” in Vietnamese--Cám ơn! (Gam Uhn)

Best regards,
Ching-Yi Chang
White House Correspondent
Phoenix TV

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