HANOI, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 12th Jan, 2017 ) - US Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Vietnam on Thursday for an emotional first stop on his final tour before stepping down as Washington's top diplomat. Kerry fought in Vietnam as a naval officer before returning to the United States in 1969 to become a prominent opponent of the war, his first foray into public life. Later, as a US senator, he worked to mend ties between the former foes and as secretary he has now made four visits to the country where once he battled Viet Cong rebels.
He is due to leave office next week when President Barack Obama hands over power to President-elect Donald Trump, but not before Kerry's final diplomatic trek. On Friday he is due to meet Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi, before travelling south to give a talk at Ho Chi Minh City university and to meet local leaders. On Saturday, he will head to the Bay Hop river in Ca Mau province where, in February 1969 he beached his patrol boat and stormed ashore to shoot dead a Viet Cong ambusher.
Kerry won a Silver Star for this action, which saved the crew of his small naval Swift Boat from rocket attack. But he came to see the war as a mistake and US tactics as counterproductive in the battle for Vietnamese hearts and minds. In 1971, after his return, he campaigned for peace. There will be more than nostalgia on the menu during his visit, however. Kerry will seek to promote US-Vietnamese educational ties and efforts to counter climate change.