Ambassador Marc Knapper’s visit to Quang Tri Province on 11 January 2023 made him the eighth United States ambassador who has visited the province since the normalization of US – Vietnam diplomatic relations in 1995. This is Ambassador Knapper’s first visit, since he took office in February 2022, to the place where his father fought during the war.
On Wednesday morning, Ambassador Knapper and accompanying staff arrived in Phuong Son Village of Trieu Son Commune to observe a demonstration of survey and clearance of unexploded ordnance by teams from RENEW/NPA, MAG, and PTVN under the coordination of Quang Tri Mine Action Center. Welcoming Ambassador Knapper and joining Knapper to see the demonstration was Provincial People’s Committee Vice Chairman Hoang Nam, who co-founded Project RENEW in 2001 and now heads the Provincial Mine Action Steering Committee.
“The work that all the organizations are doing here is tremendous,” said Knapper. “I just want to give you the thanks and the assurance of the U.S. government and people that our support to the effort will continue, because it’s so important for the prosperity and development not for just this province but for all Viet Nam.”
Before leaving the site, Ambassador Knapper wished health, prosperity and success to the staff members of RENEW/NPA, MAG and PTVN and their families in the new year to come.
In Quang Dien Village of Trieu Dai Commune, Ambassador Knapper and Vice Chairman Hoang Nam joined representatives of local authorities to cut the ribbon to inaugurate a two-floor kindergarten. The school, built under funding provided by the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPAC), provides decent classrooms with full accessories for 260 toddlers and also serves as a flood shelter for locals. Trieu Dai Kindergarten has been the sixth construction project made possible thanks to USINDOPAC’s support since 2005. “Trieu Dai Kindergarten indicates the U.S. investment into bright and prosperous future not only for Viet Nam but also for the United States and the US-Viet Nam relationship,” said Knapper at the inauguration ceremony.
After paying a courtesy call to the Provincial People’s Committee, the U.S. Embassy joined Vice Chairman Hoang Nam to offer incense to the fallen soldiers at Road 9 National Martyrs Cemetery. “Seeing so many graves of martyrs, a reminder of the anguish of the families of those fell, is an encouragement for the U.S. to work with Viet Nam to help find and identify Vietnam’s missing.”
At the Mine Action Visitor Center which was set up in 2011 by Project RENEW, Ambassador Knapper was guided through the exhibitions depicting the joint efforts between Quang Tri government and international mine action NGOs to address the war legacies. Knapper later met and talked with three survivors of explosive ordnance representing local disabled people benefiting from a USAID Vietnam-funded Inclusion Project which has been implemented by a consortium (Alliance for All Inclusion) to which Project RENEW is a member.
“This is my first visit to Quang Tri Province to see firsthand the work that our two countries are doing together to address the legacies of war,” said Ambassador Knapper to the survivors. “All of these efforts are aimed at promoting reconciliation and friendship between two countries in addition to helping the people who need the help.”