Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang quoted his country's former communist president during the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh, as he toasted improved relations between the U.S. and Vietnam and welcomed President Obama to Hanoi.
At a state lunch, Quang thanked Obama for traveling so far to mark an "another crucial milestone" in the relationship.
"The reversed development of the Vietnam-U.S. relations in the past years is clear evidence of President Ho Chi Minh's statement, 'Bear the cold winter, and we shall be welcomed by spring.'"
Quang also thanked the American people for their "contributions to putting an end to an unhappy chapter in the two countries' history."
He acknowledged that the "wounds of the war have not been fully healed" in both countries and differences remain. But he said that time goes by, "we have become more deeply aware of the past and present, and have conviction that a friendly and cooperative relationship between our two nations will be in the best interest of both peoples, as well as that of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the Asia Pacific and the world."
Quang then referred to a phrase Obama has used and said it justifies a point Ho Chi Minh made in a letter to President Harry Truman well before the Vietnam War in 1946, when he said Vietnam and the United States would develop "full cooperation."
"Mr. President, as you once said … 'If you're walking down the right path, and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress,'" he said.
"With the establishment of the comprehensive partnership, we're taking the path that President Ho Chi Minh had chosen," he said.
Obama thanked Quang and the people of Vietnam for their kind welcome and hospitality. He cited a Vietnamese saying, "When you eat the fruit, think about the one who planted the tree."
"Today, we pay our respect to all who came before us – Vietnamese and Americans – who planted an tended the tree that has become our comprehensive partnership," he said. "Today, Vietnam and America show the world that hearts can change and peace is possible."
He specifically thanked all the veterans present, both Vietnamese and American, who he said "had the courage not only to fight, but, more importantly, to make peace."
Obama ended his remarks by citing an inspiring Vietnamese message from the lotus flower, or "hoa sen" in Vietnamese.
"It takes root in the mud and thus is a symbol of hope amid hardship," he said. "It survives where other flowers cannot, and thus is a symbol of strength and endurance."