Biden marks airline deal, hails US-Vietnam relationship in Hanoi

President Biden on Monday marked a new airline deal and other business investments as well as growing U.S.-Vietnamese relations while in Hanoi.

Biden met with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam and the two welcomed a new $7.8 billion deal inked between Boeing and Vietnam Airlines that is expected to support more than 30,000 U.S. jobs.

Biden said to the prime minister that he was “looking forward to working with you personally” ahead of the meeting.

Vietnam Airlines will buy 50 737 Max jets from Boeing, Reuters reported.

Biden then visited a roundtable of business leaders and tech CEOs in Vietnam. The president spoke to the group about a “new stage” in Vietnam and US relations marked by investment and innovation, citing efforts to strengthen supply chains with investments in the semiconductor industry.

“My message today is quite simple. Let’s keep it up.” Biden said. “We need to help drive our collaboration” and “continue partnerships.” 

“This is only the beginning,” he added. “It’s about creating a free and open Indo-Pacific for all of us.”

Later in the day, Biden and Vietnamese president Vo Van Thuong had an official meeting and attended a state luncheon at the presidential palace in Hanoi. They discussed “Vietnam’s aspirations to become an upper income country by 2045,” according to a readout from the White House on the meeting.

Biden witnessed an exchange of wartime artifacts with the chairman of the Vietnamese national assembly, Vuong Dinh Hue, during the state luncheon.

U.S veterans Matt Keenan and Chuck Searcy returned a diary that was recovered by U.S. forces on the battlefield in 1967 to its author, Nguyễn Văn Thiện, who served in 2nd Company, 56th Air Defense Battalion, 69th Artillery Regiment, also known as the Bien Hoa Artillery Regiment.

Then, a senior lieutenant general presented Secretary of State Antony Blinken with identification cards of U.S. service members still missing in action in Vietnam. Blinken gave the general a Harvard University research report under contract by the Defense Department about 576 fallen Vietnamese soldiers.

Biden at the luncheon said it was a day that “may have seemed impossible not that long ago” and that it was a “reminder of the hard work we all did to get here.”

“Here’s to all of us making hope and history rhyme,” the president said.

Biden then visited a memorial for the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner in Hanoi during the war. The memorial is a stone structure surrounded by greenery and had a red, white, and blue wreath of flowers in front of it. Biden walked up to it and touched the wreath, bowing his head, and then dropped what looked like a coin and saluted.

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