Vietnam will welcome its first Vietnamese American Consul General from the United States in a few months, according to several news agencies. As reported by CaliToday, An Thanh Le has been delegated to hold office in Saigon to replace the outgoing Consul General Kenneth Fairfax, who has held the position since 2007.
Le was born in Vietnam in the 1950s and later resided in France, where he was adopted by an American diplomat. He has been involved in foreign diplomacy on behalf of the United States since finishing college and previously worked for the Consulate General in Japan and Singapore. Most recently, he was the Minister Counselor for Management in the U.S. Embassy in France.
The U.S. Consulate is a branch under the U.S. Embassy in the host country. The purposes of a consulate are to assist U.S. citizens in the host country and to act as a link between the people of the host country and the United States. Hence, the responsibilities of a consulate can be described as involvement at the local and civilian level, whereas a U.S. embassy deals with political diplomacy matters between the heads of states. In his post, Le will be working with the U.S. Embassy, which for Vietnam is led by Michael Michalak and based in Hanoi.
Le’s delegation as Consul General is another indicator evidencing the increasing interest of the Vietnamese diaspora in working with and contributing to Vietnam. The appointment, which perhaps coincidentally occurs on the 15th anniversary of the normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations, also shows the United States’ acknowledgment of Southeast Asia’s growing role in the global economy.