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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  24  May  2016  

Obama arrives in Viet Nam

Update: May, 23/2016

US President Barack Obama’s three-day official visit to Viet Nam begins today, where he will make stops in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Obama is the third consecutive US President to visit Viet Nam, following Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W.Bush in 2006.

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Viet Nam is set to further deepen the Viet Nam-US comprehensive partnership, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh said in a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency.

Commenting on the significance of the visit, Vinh said it would be the third trip by a US President since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties 20 years ago.

Two-way trade has soared to US$45 billion, a 20-fold increase since 1995. During President Obama’s tenure, both countries signed a comprehensive partnership framework in 2013 and adopted the Viet Nam-US Joint Vision Statement in 2015, when Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong paid a historic visit to the US.

Viet Nam-US ties have progressed in all fields, ranging from politics, national defence and security, science and technology, education, people-to-people exchange as well as regional and global issues of shared concern.

Asked whether the visit’s significance would be diminished since Obama is to conclude his second term next year, Vinh said, throughout the history of the Viet Nam - US relationship, the normalisation and expansion of the bilateral strategic partnership had garnered the support of the US Democratic and Republican Parties.

Personally, Obama pledged further focus on ties with Asia and ASEAN, as evidenced by the ASEAN-US Summit held in Sunnylands last February. Therefore, the visit was expected to push bilateral links forward from now on, not only during Obama’s term of office, but also in following tenures.

According to Vinh, a highlight of Obama’s visit would be the continuation of mutually-beneficial ties on the basis of mutual respect, including respect of each other’s sovereignty, independence and political regime.

On the back of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal soon to be enacted, he said two-way trade is to accelerate, adding that the visit would create a driving force for science-technology and education cooperation.

People-to-people exchange or joint work on global issues such as climate change, maritime security and environment would be also among the major themes of the visit, he said.

Regarding the possibility of the US lifting the ban on lethal weapons sales to Viet Nam, Vinh said it should be done as early as possible, hopefully during the visit, in order to remove the last barrier in bilateral ties and strengthen mutual trust.

Once the TPP comes into force, he believes that two-way trade will surge in both quantity and quality, with growth expected to be around 20 percent per year, and pointed to science, education and people-to-people exchange as promising areas of collaboration.

Switching to the East Sea issue, he called for the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is a common concern for the region, including for ASEAN.

As regards to the human rights issue, he said Viet Nam and the US had shared experience to better ensure the human rights of their peoples.

Via increased dialogue, and on the basis of mutual respect, the two countries would strive to benefit their people and countries, he said.--VNS


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AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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