Remarks Quang Tri 20 Year Review Conference on International Mine Action Programs, September 23

Thứ ba - 27/09/2016 14:28
Xin Chào Qúy Vị
Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank the Quang Tri People’s Committee and the Department of Foreign Affairs for organizing this workshop commemorating such a tremendous milestone – 20 years of international cooperation in mine action.
I’m honored to be here today, on behalf of the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and the U.S. Embassy, to celebrate this remarkable achievement.  My leaders, President Obama and Ambassador Osius, personallyplace so much importance on ourpartnerships to overcome the consequences of war.President Obama spoke aboutthis commitment only three months ago when he visited Vietnam.
To the people of Vietnam, President Obama talked about how Cold War rivalries and fears of communism pulled us into conflict.He described how we learned once more that war, no matter what our intentions may be, brings serious consequences,such as unexploded bombs.The President told the story about Vietnamese and Americansacknowledging the pain and the sacrifices on both sides.In this way, the very war that divided us became a source of healing.  And so over the last twenty years, the relationship between Vietnam and the United States transformed.This transformation allowed the United States to help remove landmines and unexploded bombs, because, as the President declared,“no child should ever lose a leg, just playing outside.”
With those words only three months ago, President Obama celebrated our partnership and reaffirmed our commitment to overcome the consequences of war.  And we are here today, because twenty years ago, Quang Tri led the waywhat he described.The United States is proud to have been part of two decades of work in mine action with Quang Tri and Vietnam. 
Over the years, in many ways, it wasn’t the governments but ordinary people and organizations outside of government that made this possible.  And so, we are proud of our partnerships with all of the international NGOs and other members of the publicwho have worked here over the last twenty years.One organization deserves special mention.  Peace Trees Vietnam was the first U.S. NGO to work in Vietnam, from the start, working to build bridges between Americans and Vietnamese and working to improve lives here in Quang Tri.The work of Peace Trees, and all the international partners, along with their Vietnamese counterparts, represents some of the very best of our shared values – our optimism and our desire to build a peaceful and prosperous future.
At this point I have to say that the Ambassador wishes he could have been here today but sends his regrets because he had a previous commitment.I also wish he could have been here, because as most of you know, he embodies the twenty years of cooperation that I just spoke about.He was one of the first U.S. diplomats to arrive in Vietnamafter normalization and helped putthe process in motion.  And many of you have heard the story about his bicycle ride through Quang Trion his way to Ho Chi Minh Cityas a young political officer.Then one year ago, he came back.  This time as the U.S. Ambassador, to see the new Legacy of War Coordination Center and thenew phase in our cooperationthat will help remove even more bombs.  
I was fortunate enough to come with him on that trip, but just barely.  I arrived in Vietnam to start my assignment on a Thursday and was told to get on a plane that Saturday and fly here with the Ambassador.Why? Because to understand the spirit of our UXO cooperation in this country, I had to come here to Quang Tri, and see it and feel it for myself.  Only then, would I be in a position to do my job, and explain it to decision makers in Washington and the American people.
When I came here with the Ambassador, he told everyone about the progress he saw from twenty years ago to now, proof that international cooperation had been effective.So on behalf of the United States and the Ambassador, I thank the government and the people of Quang Tri, and our international partners for your humanitarian cooperation as we’ve worked together to address UXO contamination.As a result of our partnership, Quang Tri is clearing more bombs.  Fewer citizens are being hurt or killed.  And together, we are saving lives. 
But we know clearly, the work is not yet done.  The United States stands beside you.  Our annual funding, 12 million dollars in Vietnam this year, reflects this firm promise.Across the country, we’re supporting everything from victims’ assistance, risk education, capacity building, and survey and clearance of UXO.  Our navies are working together on underwater demining while our armies work together to harmonize Vietnam’s vast experience in land based demining with international standards. 
We work here in Quang Tri, but also other central provinces, and with the 504 committee and Vietnam National Mine Action Center to help improve Vietnam’s capacity across the board. 
We look forward to continuing our strong partnerships into the future, so the people of Quang Tri and and all of Vietnam can walk the earth in safetyand free from fear.  That is our committment to you.
Thank you.

Nguồn tin: Dara Yin, First Secretary, U.S. Embassy

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