- Published on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 16:27
- Written by Saigoneer.
As Air Force One makes its way to Japan ahead of the G7 Summit, it's safe to say that United States president Barack Obama's visit has been a positive and productive one for Vietnam.
On the official side of things, the American leader kicked off his trip by lifting a 50-year-old arms embargo between the United States and Vietnam. President Obama's speech at the National Convention Center in Hanoi also touched upon the future, highlighting trade between the two countries as well as environmental protection, human rights and education.
In between official events, the American commander-in-chief also witnessed the signing of a US$11.3 billion deal between budget carrier VietJet and American aircraft manufacturer Boeing as well as the beginning of a green energy partnership with General Electric, according to Thanh Nien.
President Obama also announced the arrival of the Peace Corps program in Vietnam, reports ABC News, telling the media that incoming participants would focus upon teaching English to local students.
Elsewhere, US Secretary of State John Kerry tagged along on the visit, grabbing dinner with HCMC Party Secretary Dinh La Thang at the Bitexco Tower, and discussing Saigon's forthcoming Harvard-affiliated Fulbright University, which is set to become the first independent, nonprofit university in Vietnam, reports Reuters.
Apart from official business, residents in both Saigon and Hanoi were equally enthusiastic about President Obama's trip, with crowds lining up to greet him wherever he went. Before the American leader had even arrived, Vietnam's meme machine was in full swing, however the internet frenzy over President Obama's trip kicked into high gear as soon as his plane touched the tarmac.
President Obama's interaction with local crowds spawned heaps of selfies, as did that much-documented bún chả dinner with American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. In fact, President Obama's bún chả meal was so heavily covered by both local and international media that the coverage included everything from the dinner itself to the fact that he ordered not one but two helpings of Hanoi's signature dish, much to the delight of the shopowners.
Saigon, too, gave the American commander-in-chief one hell of a welcome as thousands gathered to greet the president when he arrived on Tuesday afternoon.
Later that afternoon, the president paid a visit to Saigon's Jade Emperor Pagoda, touring the facility with a local monk. Though few people actually had the opportunity to interact with the American president, well-wishers gathered outside the pagoda were ecstatic.
Earlier this morning, President Obama rounded out his last day in Vietnam with a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative town hall meeting at the GEM Center, reports Zing.
While a crowd gathered outside, the president expressed his commitment to fostering young leaders after leaving office and received plenty of compliments indoors, not to mention an impromptu performance from local rapper Suboi.
As the event drew to a close, President Obama hopped back in The Beast for a return trip to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, rounding out a successful three-day visit to the country. He will continue on to Japan for the G7 Summit before returning to the United States.
[Photo via Zing]