Kerry pledges $17 million in aid to Vietnam's Mekong Delta
KIEN VANG, Vietnam — From an American gunboat decades ago, John Kerry patrolled for communist insurgents on the winding, muddy waters of the Mekong Delta. From those familiar waterways, the top U.S. diplomat confronted a modern enemy on Sunday — climate change.
In this remote part of southern Vietnam, rising sea waters, erosion and upstream dam development on the Mekong River are proving a more serious threat than the Viet Cong guerrillas whom Kerry battled in 1968 and 1969.
“Decades ago, on these very waters, I was one of many who witnessed the difficult period in our shared history,” Kerry told a group of young professionals gathered near a dock at the riverfront village of Kien Vang. “Today, on these waters, I am bearing witness to how far our two nations have come together, and we are talking about the future, and that's the way it ought to be.”
That future, especially for the water-dependent economy of the millions who live in the Mekong Delta, is in jeopardy, he said.
Kerry pledged $17 million to a program that will help the region's rice producers, shrimp and crab farmers and fishermen adapt to potential changes caused by higher sea levels that bring saltwater into the ecosystem. Kerry said he would make it a personal priority to ensure that none of the six countries that share the Mekong — China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam — and depend on it for the livelihoods of an estimated 60 million people exploits the river at the expense of the others.
In a pointed reference to China, which plans several Mekong Dam projects that could affect downstream populations, Kerry said, “No one country has a right to deprive another country of a livelihood, an ecosystem and its capacity for life itself that comes from that river. That river is a global asset, a treasure that belongs to the region.”
The Mekong's resources must “benefit people not just in one country, not just in the country where the waters come first, but in every country that touches this great river.”
Kerry has made 13 previous postwar trips to Vietnam.
On his first trip as secretary of State, he was determined to bolster the remarkable rapprochement that he encouraged as a senator in the 1990s.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's capital, Kerry on Saturday met with members of the business community and entrepreneurs to talk up a trade agreement the United States is negotiating with Vietnam and nine other Asian countries.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Netanyahu rebuts claim of genocide, accuses Iran
- Protesters in Hong Kong stand firm in battle to stop encroaching rule by China
- Afghan president heads unity government poised to sign pact to keep U.S. troops
- Belgium accuses Muslim group of radicalizing, training youth to fight in Syria
- Search for victims on hold in Japan as volcano spews toxic fumes
- Virus traced to mosquitoes in Latin America causes severe joint pain
- Unrest, fatalities challenge shaky cease-fire in Ukraine
- Mystery over North Korean leader fuels health rumors
- Israel military shoots down Syrian aircraft
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- Courting Vietnam, U.S. prepares to ease arms embargo