The U.S. – Vietnam Relationship and War Legacies: 25 Years into Normalization

2020 marks the 25th Anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Vietnam is a American key partner in the Indo-Pacific region, and the United States and Vietnam have made great strides in building a forward-looking and mutually beneficial partnership despite the shared history of war, its baneful legacies, and a nineteen-year interruption to diplomatic relations.

The Stimson Center invites you to join us for a discussion exploring the bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam, the progress made on war legacy issues in the last 25 years, and the role that the legacies of war will play in the future relationship.


Opening Remarks

Senator Patrick Leahy, United States Senate, representing Vermont

Patrick Leahy was elected to the United States Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from Vermont.  At 34, he was the youngest U.S. Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State. Leahy is the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Leahy is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in seniority in the Senate. Read his full biography.

Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc has served in the diplomatic service since 1988 in different positions and has much experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. He was appointed by President Tran Dai Quang as the sixth Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the United States of America in March 2018. He arrived in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2018 and presented his Credentials to President Donald J. Trump on September 17, 2018. Read his full biography.

Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

Daniel J. Kritenbrink is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, who has served as an American diplomat since 1994.  He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam on October 26, 2017, and presented his credentials to Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on November 6, 2017. Mr. Kritenbrink has completed multiple assignments related to Asia.  Most recently, he was the Senior Advisor for North Korea Policy at the Department of State.  Prior to that, he was Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council (2015-2017), where he worked extensively on Vietnam and oversaw the negotiation of two Joint Statements regarding our Comprehensive Partnership with Vietnam.  At the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Mr. Kritenbrink served as Deputy Chief of Mission (2013-2015), Minister Counselor for Political Affairs (2011-2013), and as Political Officer (2006-2009).  He also served in Tokyo (1994-1995 and 2000-2004), Sapporo (1995-1997), and Kuwait City (1997-1999).  In Washington, his other assignments have included Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the Department of State (2009-2011), and Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1999-2000). Read his full biography.


Mike Cerre, Special Correspondent for PBS News Hour and Globe TV Reporter

An Emmy award winning foreign correspondent and documentary producer, formerly with ABC News Nightline, Mike Cerre has reported on Vietnam’s UXO and Agent Orange legacies for the PBS NewsHour. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he served as a Marine officer in Vietnam 1970-71 and has returned to the country several times. His GLOBE Tv company does strategic communications work for non-non-profits and multinational corporations. Read his full biography.

Tim Rieser, Senior Foreign Policy Aid for Senator Leahy, Democratic Clerk of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

Tim Rieser graduated from the Putney School, in Putney, VT in 1970, and received his BA in history from Dartmouth College in 1976. He received his JD from the Antioch School of Law in 1979. From 1980-83, Tim worked as a public defender in Barre, VT, and in 1984 spent a year as a teaching assistant under Professor Roger Fisher at the Harvard Law School Negotiation Project. In 1985, Tim began working for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on judiciary issues, and then shifted to foreign policy in 1987. In 1989, when Senator Leahy became Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Tim joined the Subcommittee as a professional staff member. In 1995, Tim became the Democratic Clerk for what by then was the Subcommittee on the Department of State and Foreign Operations, and has held that position ever since, handling appropriations for the operations of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and U.S. foreign assistance programs. Since 1995, Tim has also served as Senator Leahy’s senior foreign policy aide.

Susan Hammond, Founder and Executive Director of the War Legacies Project

Susan Hammond is the daughter of a United States Vietnam Veteran and has experienced firsthand the consequences of one of the most dangerous forms of dioxin, Agent Orange. In 2007after extensive work in Vietnam, Hammond founded War Legacies Project and is now the Executive Director. Hammond is a leading expert in her field and has made it her life’s work to raise awareness on Agent Orange consequences and provide aid to Vietnamese families. Read her full biography.

Ha Pham, In-Country Director for PeaceTrees Vietnam

Ha Pham joined PeaceTrees Vietnam in 2001. As the In-Country Director for PeaceTrees Vietnam, Ha provides direct oversight for all of our projects and acts as our liaison with local government officials. She also helps to organize itineraries for our Citizen Diplomacy trips. Further, she provides PeaceTrees’ immediate response to all victims of landmine/UXO accidents. She determines the best way to help them and meet their immediate and long-term needs. She also supports and helps other staff to build capacity. Ha’s long journey with PeaceTrees Vietnam has helped her build extensive leadership and management experience. She has a B.A. in English Language and Business Administration.

Le Dinh Vu, PhD, Chief of the Office of the Standing Board of the National Steering Committee on Overcoming Post-War Consequences of Unexploded Ordnances and Toxic Chemicals in Vietnam

Mr. Le Dinh Vu has background in military science and technology and was a university lecturer for nearly 20 years. He worked as a manager in the fields of science, technology and environment of the Vietnam Ministry of the National Defence before being appointed as Chief of Office 701 on overcoming post-war consequences. His 9 years of working experiences with the Ministry prepared him well to steer the tasks of the Office 701.

 This event is supported by the War Legacies Working Group.

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