Blinken breaks ground on $1.2B US embassy compound in Hanoi
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a ceremony Saturday to break ground on a $1.2 billion U.S. embassy compound in Hanoi.
The compound’s construction has been prepared for many years, and is the result of the devotion and creativity of many Vietnamese and American diplomats, Blinken said at the ceremony.
The compound is being built on a 3.2-hectare land lot that will be leased for 99 years at Pham Van Bach Street, Cau Giay District.
Blinken said the new embassy demonstrates a major step forward in the Vietnam and U.S. partnership.
“When Vietnam and the U.S. normalized relations in 1995, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi had fewer than 30 staff members. Now, many things have changed, the Vietnam – U.S. relations have grown stronger and the embassy staff members have grown to more than 600,” he said.
He said the embassy has played an important role the past 27 years to enhance bilateral cooperation in many fields including economy, healthcare, clean energy transformation, as well as promote peace, prosperity and war consequence remediation.
The new eight-story compound will have four times the number of booths that handle consular procedures, to improve visa and passport issuance services.
Construction is expected to take six years, create jobs for around 1,800 local people and contribute $350 billion to Vietnam’s economy, Blinken said.
The compound is designed by an American company, inspired by Vietnam’s topography and Hanoi’s urban architecture. The building’s foundation is made of basalt, a stone available both in Vietnam and the U.S. It will be built with many reusable materials and designed to be energy-saving and flood-resistant.
Vietnam and the U.S. agreed on on the location for the campus in 2019. The Hanoi People’s Committee issued a decision to lease the land in 2021. The land lease agreement was signed on August 25, 2021 in Hanoi with the visiting U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
Blinken landed in Hanoi Friday night to begin his three-day visit to Vietnam per an invitation by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son.
This is Blinken’s first visit to Vietnam as a Secretary of State. He visited Vietnam in 2015 and 2016 as the Deputy Secretary of State under the Obama administration.
Vietnam and the U.S. upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive partnership in 2013.
The two countries’ bilateral trade turnover reached over $123.86 billion in 2022, an 11% increase from 2021. The U.S. is also the largest export market and the second-largest commercial partner for Vietnam.
Direct foreign investments from the U.S. to Vietnam reached over $11 billion, accounting for over 1,200 projects, placing it at 11th place among all countries and territories that invest directly into Vietnam. There are around 30,000 Vietnamese students studying in the U.S., contributing $1 billion to the country’s economy.
The two countries’ defense and security cooperation has also strengthened, with the U.S. transferring two Hamilton-class vessels to Vietnam in 2017 and 2021. U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper in April last year said the U.S. was ready to transfer a third Hamilton-class vessel to Vietnam, but did not mention a specific time frame.
By Vu Anh – VnExpress.net – April 14, 2023