Acting President of the DAV attends USIP’s Annual Dialogue on War Consequences and Peace in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

00:00 03/11/2023

On September 13-15, 2023, Dr. Pham Lan Dung, Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), attended as panelist the second Annual Dialogue on War Consequences and Peace in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in Washington, DC, the United States (US), organized by the US Institute of Peace.

The Dialogue was attended by nearly 150 delegates, including public officials, politicians, scholars, experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the US. The event’s agenda focused on efforts to address the consequences of war and its impact on Vietnam-US relations, covering a comprehensive set of topics such as the search for veterans' remains, how to reduce the impacts of Agent Orange and support people with disabilities, efforts to dismantle unexploded remnants or to build peace through cultural exchanges and intergenerational connections, etc.

Dr. Pham Lan Dung with Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh and Ambassador Marc Knapper

Besides Dr. Pham Lan Dung, the DAV delegation participating in other Dialogue’s sessions included Dr. Vu Le Thai Hoang, Director, Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, and  Mr. Do Hoang, Research Officer, East Sea Institute.

Speaking at the Dialogue’s Closing Session alongside Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh and US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, Dr. Pham Lan Dung emphasized that education would continue to play a vital role in the reconciliation process between the two countries in the future. Education would help promote general awareness and mutual understanding of the history of Vietnam-US relations and the Vietnam War, especially when these contents have not received adequate attention in general training programs in the US (estimatedly, in the 90s, an 11th grade student in California only spent 1-2 weeks learning about the Vietnam War and US textbooks paid little attention to the topic of war consequences suffered by Vietnam). In addition, education could also encourage new ideas for the two sides to resolve post-war issues, while strengthening the connection between the two countries' people, thereby creating a favorable environment for the two sides to continue to reconcile. This was also one of the key points recognized in the Vietnam-US Leaders’ Joint Statement during President Biden's visit to Vietnam in September 2023.

Representative speakers at the Dialogue

At the Dialogue, US representatives from different governmental branches all stated that post-war reconciliation is still the US’ current concern. Dr. Lisa Grande, President of USIP, said that Vietnam-US reconciliation is the longest healing process in the world’s history (lasting for 50 years so far) and will continue, which can serve as an example for other reconciliations. Mr. Tim Rieser, Assistant to former Senator Patrick Laehy, said that resolving the consequences of war is at the heart of post-war cooperation between the two countries. Deputy Assistant Secretary Samantha Brown underlined that the US is increasingly paying attention to addressing the consequences of war, not only with Vietnam but also with Laos and Cambodia. Senator Jeff Merkey echoed the similar sentiment, stressing that reconciliation not only heals the physical and psycholocial wounds resulted from the war but also creates momentum for international cooperation.

Also at the Dialogue, US legislative and executive officials applauded the upgrade of Vietnam-US relations. Dr. Mira Rapp-Hoopper, Assistant to President Biden and Senior Director for East Asia, National Security Council, viewed the upgrade as a step forward in bilateral ties, contributing to regional and global cooperation and stability. Senator Jeff Merkey said the upgrade was the second “breakthrough” in bilateral relations, after the normalization in the 90s, and was supported by both parties in the US Congress. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary Samantha Brown, the upgrade proved that countries can both look to the future while showing respect for the past.

USIP is a research agency established by the US Congress, with the purpose of preventing and resolving conflicts around the world. USIP has had numerous cooperations with the DAV in recent years, most notably the joint Memorandum of Cooperation signed in November 2022 and the Dialogue on War Consequences in Hanoi in July 2023. Such activities have contributed to realizing the wishes and commitments of the US Congress in the process of overcoming and raising awareness on wartime consequences./.

Written by HD; Photo by Pepe Gomez, Pixelme Studio

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