From the U.S. Department of State comes this photo of U.S. secretary of state John Kerry toasting Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang, who is visiting Washington, D.C. and met earlier today with U.S. president Barack Obama.
For Americans (and Vietnamese) of a certain era, the fact that Vietnam’s president, who was a member of Vietnam’s ruling Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam (Vietnamese Communist Party) in the late 1960s during the U.S. military intervention to support allied South Vietnam against the Communist North Vietnam, and Kerry, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam, would be standing side by side toasting one another in Washington, D.C., is incredible.
Kerry, a former Democratic senator from Massachusetts, along with fellow Republican senator and former Vietnam veteran John McCain, was instrumental in normalizing U.S. relations with Vietnam in 1995, over 20 years after the U.S. withdrew from the region. The North Vietnamese quickly overwhelmed the South Vietnamese resistance and consolidated Communist Party rule in Vietnam’s entirety by 1976.
In recent years, Vietnam has emerged as one of southeast Asia’s leading economic performers.
I wrote last week about the Vietnamese government’s promising moves toward becoming potentially the first country in Asia to enact same-sex marriage.
Truong Tan Sang, who was jailed by the South Vietnamese government between 1971 and 1973, has been a leading member of the Vietnamese Communist Party since the 1990s, and formally became leader of the party and the Vietnamese president in summer 2011.