On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Vietnam as you celebrate your National Day on September 2.
Vietnam's journey has long been personal to me. I remember the beauty of a country I first knew as a young Navy officer. I'll never forget nearly a quarter century later touching down at a Hanoi airport in 1991 on my first trip to Vietnam as a civilian and seeing a country that had moved past war and division and was eager to engage with the world. It has been moving and rewarding to be a partner to the Vietnamese people as America reengaged with Vietnam.
It has been both a reminder that reconciliation does not come easily but is worth the investment of energy and goodwill.
This journey came full circle for me on July 24, when I had the opportunity to host Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the State Department. President Sang's visit to Washington celebrated the progress we have made together in the 18 years since we normalized diplomatic relations and reflected a shared desire to deepen the partnership between our peoples.
Over these last 18 years, Vietnam has taken a long journey. And as Vietnam has grown, so too has our partnership.
Bilateral trade increased more than fifty-fold from 1995 to 2012, and we continue to deepen our economic ties. In the coming year, we will work to expand our cooperation on education and strengthen people-to-people exchanges. We will deepen our dialogue on trade, health, human rights, and environmental challenges. And we will carry forward the strategic relationship between our countries based on our common desire for peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific.
On this festive occasion, we celebrate our shared journey from conflict to friendship. Thanks to you, together we've accomplished what at times seemed impossible. May you enjoy peace, good health and prosperity in the coming year.