In Vietnam, John Kerry Picks Fight With Climate Change

Secretary of State also relives old memories on official visit
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2013 3:30 PM CST
In Vietnam, John Kerry Picks Fight With Climate Change
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rides a boat through the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.    (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)

John Kerry revisited Vietnam yesterday, reviving old memories and trying to maintain good relations with a former enemy—particularly over the tricky issue of climate change, Bloomberg reports. "It’s weird," he said, looking at the murky waters of the Mekong Delta, where he engaged in combat more than 40 years ago. "It brings back stuff." No surprise there: He earned a chestful of medals for fighting in Vietnam and sparked his political career by publicly opposing the war. He also helped mend fences with Vietnamese officials over the years, and now, on a 3-day trip, he aims to help businesses that may drown amid the Delta's rising sea levels.

Kerry met with residents who farm shrimp and rice in a riverside hamlet along the Delta, which scientists say is highly vulnerable to erosion, falling water tables, and rising seas. Kerry pledged $17 million for a USAID sustainable-development project, and referred to a $94 million clean-energy agreement that GE signed yesterday with a Vietnamese construction company for wind turbines. But his personal impressions kept coming back, as he marveled at the growth of Hanoi and noted "how it's changed and how it hasn't" along the Delta. Said an aide on the trip: "I don’t think there’s any real estate in the whole world that’s more defining" for Kerry than these waters in Vietnam. (More John Kerry stories.)

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