Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Barrasso (R-WY) released the following statement on their congressional delegation visit to Vietnam:

“Our visit to Vietnam came at an important time in light of troubling regional developments and rising challenges in the South China Sea. During our meetings with President Tran Dai Quang, Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and other members of the National Assembly, the Government of Vietnam stressed its commitment to international law and maintaining a favorable balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, and we explored ways to expand our security assistance and defense cooperation. We also discussed ways to grow our economic relations, deepen foreign investment, and overcome remaining barriers to trade including repealing the cumbersome and costly U.S. Department of Agriculture catfish inspection program and increasing U.S. beef and poultry exports. 

“In addition, we spoke frankly about the importance of respecting human rights and encouraged the Government of Vietnam to uphold its international commitments to freedom of assembly and association. We emphasized that progress on this issue will help our relationship grow, and we hope the Government of Vietnam will release political prisoners such as Nguyen Van Dai.

“This was a particularly memorable visit as we had the opportunity to tour the USS John S. McCain while on a port call at Cam Ranh Bay. It is our hope that the presence of the USS John S. McCain, a ship named for Senator McCain's grandfather and father who spent much of their naval careers in the Asia-Pacific, serves as a symbol of reconciliation between the United States and Vietnam and reminds our allies and adversaries of America's enduring commitment in the region.

“It is noteworthy that at the same time as our visit, the Trump Administration announced its intention to deepen our comprehensive partnership with Vietnam following Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to the United States. Vietnam is an important partner with which the United States shares many strategic and economic interests, including expanding regional trade relationships and furthering our maritime security cooperation. Going forward, we hope that the United States will continue to expand our military-to-military ties with Vietnam and work more closely together to support the freedom of the seas and skies in the Asia-Pacific region. 

“The progress we have made since the normalization of relations 22 years ago is remarkable. At the same time, there is much more we can do together as partners, and we need an ambitious agenda as we look to expand our cooperation and continue to work on remaining war legacy issues. We look forward to visiting Vietnam again soon and to further discussions on how we can continue to advance our strategic partnership."