Delegation of Vietnamese officials and religious dignitaries led by Deputy Minister Vũ Chiến Thắng pays working visit to the U.S.
A delegation of Vietnamese officials and religious dignitaries led by Deputy Minister of the Home Affairs Ministry Vũ Chiến Thắng paid a working visit to the United State from October 10-22.
Vietnamese officials and religious dignitaries pay visit to U.S. Department of State
Accompanying with the delegation included Vice Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs (GCRA) Nguyễn Tiến Trọng.
During the visit, the delegation met with Melissa Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, Regional Director of the Southeast Asia at the US Department of State Robert T. Koepcke, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Husain, Vice President of the USCIRF Frederick A. Davie, and Congressman Brad Sherman.
The delegation meets with Deputy Assistant Secretary Melissa Brown
At the working meetings, the delegation and the U.S. sides had open and frank exchanges on religious policies and implementation of these policies, as well as issues of mutual concern, and wished to maintain the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. The Vietnamese delegation also updated information on specific cases mentioned by the U.S. side, took notes of a list of cases raised by the US Department of State and the Office of USCIRF, as well as asked the U.S. to promptly keep exchanges of information on religion through the official channel of Vietnamese diplomatic representative agencies abroad and the GCRA.
The delegation meets with US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Husain
The Vietnam and U.S sides have clarified the differences relating human rights and religion issues, highlighted a change in the proactive dialogue method of the Vietnamese delegation in the context that the two countries have upgraded the bilateral relation to a comprehensive strategic partnership, and agreed the coordination and information exchange mechanism through Vietnam's diplomatic representative agency in the United States and the GCRA.
The U.S. acknowledged Vietnam's achievements in ensuring freedom of belief and religion in Vietnam over the past year, and asked about the amendments on the Law on Belief & Religion and its guiding Decree 162, including the implementation of the religious law at the local level and in remote areas, guidance for religious organizations in registering religious operation, land of several religious establishments, and the right for the religious group’s activities in Vietnam.
Meeting with Congressman Brad Sherman
Speaking with U.S. officials, Deputy Minister Vũ Chiến Thắng gave specific arguments against cases of false information and lack of objectivity about the religious situation in Vietnam, and asked the U.S. not to support and use one-sided information from individuals and groups of exiled Vietnamese in the U.S. The home affairs deputy minister also proposed that the two sides would strengthen dialogues in a constructive spirit, respect international laws, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and each other's political regime, contributing to enhancing mutual understanding between Vietnam and the U.S., and the implementation of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
Meeting with Institute for Global Engagement (IGE)
On the occasion, the delegation had also visited and met with representative leaders of the several US visited religious organizations and faith-based groups, including the Evangelical Church of U.S., the Baptist Church, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Washington D.C and San Francisco, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) at the United Nations, the Foreign Service Fellowship International (FSF), the United Methodist Church, the Roots of Peace, and Representative of the Vatican at the UN, Protestant elders in San Rafael and San Francisco and Professon Cole Durham of Brigham Young University.
Meeting with Pastor President of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association William Franklin Graham
At the visiting receptions, two sides had exchanges on religion in Vietnam and the U.S. religious churches and organizations. The Vietnamese delegation gave explanations on religious freedom in Vietnam in order to help individuals and religious organizations in U.S. to better understand and support Vietnam in persuading the US Department of State to remove Vietnam from Special Watch List (SWL), preventing false understanding from affection of the relationship and implementation of the Vietnam-US comprehensive strategic partnership agreement.
Visiting the Baptist Church
Speaking with the Vietnamese delegation, the IGE and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stated that Vietnam needs to change its approach and advocacy methods in order for the US to understand and release objective information about Vietnam. Pastor William Franklin Graham also highlighted that he is ready to accept the role of "religious ambassador" for Vietnam for sharing and explaining information to the US officials and agencies, and persuading U.S. to remove Vietnam from SWL. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia acknowledged achievements in ensuring religious freedom in Vietnam, and had exchanges on the report of US Department of State that included Vietnam in its SWL. He also shared recent results of Vietnam – Vatican relationship, and extended congratulations to the upgrade of the bilateral relationship to the level of permanent representative. The archbishop affirmed that with his role at the UN, he would support Vietnam to be removed from SWL, and promote the relation between Vietnamese government and the Holy See in the coming time.
Attending round table meeting in New York
Religious dignitaries representing Buddhism, Catholicism, Hoa Hao Buddhism, Caodaism and Protestantism in Vietnam also shared about their religions in the country. The also affirmed achievements in ensuring religious freedom by Vietnamese government, and expressed opinions to refute issues that lack objectivity and have not been verified in reports of the US Department of State and the USCIRF about the religious life in Vietnam and the situation of the recent terrorist attack on June 11 in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province.
Visiting Vietnamese Embassy in Washington D.C.
During the visit, the delegation also had working visits to the Vietnam Embassy in Washington D.C, Vietnamese Delegation to the United Nations, and Consulate General of Vietnam in San Francisco. During visiting receptions, Deputy Minister Vũ Chiến Thắng asked Vietnamese representative agencies in the U.S. to continue dialogue in order to hear and share about accurate information on belief and religion in Vietnam, persuade the US Department of State to remove Vietnam from SWL, and assist the Vietnamese religious community living in U.S. to proactively engage in activities towards the homeland.
Meeting with Consulate General of Vietnam in San Francisco
Meeting with Vietnamese Delegation to the United Nations
Attending a round table meeting with religious organizations in New York
Visiting LDS Church in San Francisco
Deputy Minister Vũ Chiến Thắng presents token gift to Vice President of USCIRF Frederick A. Davie
Deputy Minister Vũ Chiến Thắng presents souvenir to Archbishop Gabriele Caccia
Meeting with Prof. Cole Durham of Brigham Young University