HANOI, Vietnam—President Joe Biden arrived in Vietnam on Sunday after wrapping his meetings at the Group of 20 summit in India. Upon his arrival, the president participated in a bilateral meeting with Communist Party leader Nguyễn Phú Trọng, and both leaders formally announced an elevated partnership, sending a strong message to China.
The Vietnamese government has promoted the United States to the highest level of relationship, “comprehensive strategic partner.” So far, only China, Russia, India, and South Korea have achieved this degree of partnership with Hanoi.
President Biden called the visit “historic” during a press conference following his meeting. He praised the progress in relations between both countries from “conflicts to normalization” with a new elevated status.
The two leaders reportedly spoke on the phone months ago and agreed to elevate the partnership.
Upon his arrival, President Biden participated in a welcome ceremony hosted by Mr. Trọng in front of the Presidential Palace.
Later, the president and the general secretary met in a big wood-paneled conference room at the communist party headquarters, a building with a hammer and sickle on the front just across the street from the palace.
The communist party leader enthusiastically welcomed the president and stated that their meeting would be a vital opportunity to deepen the relationship.
“May your visit to Vietnam be a great success,” he said.
He went on to laud President Biden’s appearance despite his age.
“You have nary aged a day and I would say you look even better than before,” he said, adding “Every feature of you, Mr. President, is very much complimentary of your image.”
“I think we have an enormous opportunity,” President Biden said in response, adding the partnership is coming at a critical time.
“I’m not saying that to be polite. I’m saying it because I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
He mentioned cooperation on supply chains and climate change.
“This can be the beginning of even a greater era of cooperation.”
During the press conference, President Biden was bombarded with questions about growing tensions with China.
“I am sincere about getting relationship back, but China is changing the rules of the game,” President Biden said, referring to concerns about the new ban on iPhones. “I don’t want to contain China,” he added.
He also noted that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is facing economic troubles at home.
The story is developing