FW: VP Pool Report #1

From: Baker, Peter [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2015 2:58 PM
To: Pietranton, Kelsey
Subject: VP Pool Report #1

VPOTUS Pool Report #1

State Department

July 7, 2015

After the White House meeting, VPOTUS hosted General Secretary Trong for lunch in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department to celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations. VPOTUS hailed a series of agreements dealing with double taxation and aviation safety and a series of commercial deals, including one between Boeing and Vietnam Airlines that could be worth $7 billion and another between Boeing and VietJet Air that could be worth another $6 billion.

He also mentioned Vietnam’s decision to approve the establishment of Fulbright University Vietnam, the country’s first non-profit private university, in a high-tech park in Hanoi, a project long championed by Thomas Vallely, the chairman of the nonprofit institution sponsoring the university, who was in attendance. Looking out at Vallely, VPOTUS noted his 15 years of lobbying. “Tommy, I hope it ends the phone calls on this,” he joked. Then he added, flashing his famous grin, “As someone once said, it’s a big deal.”

He also encouraged Vietnam to finish negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. “I want to thank you for your efforts so far in this agreement general and urge that we make further progress so we can make sure we cross the finish line,” he said. “There’s much more to do in a short amount of time.”

VPOTUS reflected on 20 years of restored relations with Vietnam and said this was a special event for him. “I got elected in 1972 as a 29 year old man,” he said. “My main reason for running was to end the war in Vietnam. And here I am as vice president with the general secretary celebrating 20 year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with nothing but promise on the horizon.”

He noted that he was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when relations were restored. It took a lot of courage, it took vision and it took a lot of hard work to get there. But together we confronted the painful legacy of the past and laid the foundation for a successful partnership that has followed.”

VPOTUS said the United States was still working to account for missing personnel, remove explosive ordnance and remediate toxic remains from the war. But he extolled the personal relationships built up over the last two decades. “Quite frankly, I think all politics is personal, particularly the conduct of foreign policy. Unless you can establish a personal relationship it’s hard to establish trust and that’s what all agreements are based upon.”

“Our conversations in the Oval Office are no longer about how to address the past but about how to seize the future,” he added, while noting that the two still have very different systems. “ We will continue to have challenging conversations while respecting each others’ viewpoints and systems. That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are today and that’s how we’ll continue to build this relationship for tomorrow.”

Then he raised a glass in a toast “to the limitless potential of our relationship.”

General Secretary Trong then spoke in Vietnamese. Unfortunately your pool did not have immediate access to headsets for translation so his opening was missed. But when we caught up with his remarks, he too was praising the change in relations. “What surprised us – and somehow was a miracle – was that our bilateral relations have made giant and impressive strides,” he said, calling the two sides “comprehensive partners.”

“We have accomplished what President Ho Chi Minh stated 70 years ago in his letter to President Harry Truman” in building a positive relationship, he added.

He cited shared interests in education, trade, security, climate change and energy security. “In a dynamic and fast changing world today, we need to value and foster such common interests,” he said, while mentioning the need for “respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, non interference.” He added: “Both sides are committed to respecting each other’s political regime.”

Among about 200 guests were USTR Mike Froman, the Ex-Im Bank’s Fred Hochberg, Rep. Doris Matsui, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, retired Ambassador John Negroponte and top State officials like Evan Ryan, Doug Frantz and Tom Malinowski.

VPOTUS was relatively low key and even a bit subdued, reading from notes though ad-libbing as he usually does and taking note when he saw someone he recognized in the audience, like Scowcroft. He mistakenly said Matsui was from Hawaii. Corrected, he joked, “I’m going to blame that one on my speechwriter.” The only time he grinned widely was the reference to his BFD quote. He stared straight ahead when General Secretary Trong was speaking, the earpiece in his ear.

Here was the menu:

FIRST COURSE

Peach and Arugula Salad

Lemon honey balsamic vinaigrette

MAIN COURSE

Maryland Rockfish and Crab

Silver Queen corn and lump crab ragout, haricots verts, Old Bay potatoes, Tabasco roasted red pepper tomato sauce

DESSERT

Lemon and Fresh Raspberry Galette

Sweet dough, lemon cream, honey tuile,

Chambord whipped cream and raspberry coulis

Peter Baker

NY Times

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