[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Kerry in Vietnam to discuss trade, security

US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Vietnam for the first time as America's top diplomat.

Last updated: 14 Dec 2013 09:59
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
US lawmakers expressed concern over growing arrests of bloggers and other activists in Vietnam [Reuters]

Forty-four years after first setting foot in Vietnam as a young naval officer, US Secretary of State John Kerry has returned to the country seeking closer trade and security ties. 

Kerry arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly the capital of South Vietnam, on Saturday to strengthen diplomacy with an old US rival and raise human rights concerns.

"The US is prepared to assist Vietnam in its economic development and growth but at the same time believes that progress on human rights and rule of law is essential," a senior State Department official told reporters en route to Vietnam.

Kerry's visit comes as the US strives to reach a trade deal with 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Vietnam. A Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is the centrepiece of US efforts to refocus attention on the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

Human rights

But a letter by 47 members of the House of Representatives to Kerry last week expressed concern over growing arrests of bloggers and other activists in Vietnam. 

A 2012 State Department report on human rights also cited restrictions on citizens' political rights and civil liberties in addition to corruption and arrests of religious groups as major problems in the country.

Kerry will also discuss ways the US can help increase Vietnam's security in case of escalating conflict with China over the disputed South China Sea.

The four-day trip will also include visits to the Mekong Delta and the nation's capital, Hanoi.

Kerry visited Vietnam 13 times as a senator, but this was his first trip to the country as top US diplomat.

260

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.