Obama in Vietnam

by VOA  2016-05-31 00:00:00

On his recent trip to Vietnam, President Barack Obama highlighted the dramatic progress of U.S.-Vietnam relations in recent years and outlined areas where we hope to deepen our partnership in the future, including trade and investment, security cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, and global issues, like climate change and health.

President Obama highlighted our strong economic ties, with over $45 billion in bilateral trade and growing investment, including a $12 billion deal between Boeing and VietJet announced during the President’s visit. He also reiterated the United States’ commitment to ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and stressed the importance of Vietnam fully implementing its commitments under this trade agreement, including on labor rights.

In addition, President Obama announced the lifting of the decades-old arms embargo, which removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War and ensures that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself. The change also underscores the commitment of the United States to a fully normalized relationship with Vietnam, including strong defense ties with Vietnam and the region for the long term.

And at a time of tension in the South China Sea, the United States will support the peaceful resolution of disputes, including through arbitration under international law. "Nations are sovereign, no matter how large or small a nation may be; its sovereignty should be respected and its territory should not be violated," said President Obama.

The President stressed that continued progress on human rights and legal reform was key to Vietnam -- and the U.S.-Vietnam relationship -- reaching its full potential. “It’s my hope that the government of Vietnam comes to recognize what we’ve recognized and what so many countries around the world have recognized...that it’s very hard to prosper in this modern economy if you haven’t fully unleashed the potential of your people,” President Obama said. President Obama met with civil society members during his visit, though some were regrettably prevented from attending the meeting.

President Obama reiterated the importance of religious freedom and highlighted recent exchanges on the Law on Religion and Belief. “When there is freedom of religion, it not only allows people to fully express the love and compassion that are at the heart of all great religions, but it allows faith groups to serve their communities through schools and hospitals, and care for the poor and the vulnerable,” the President said.

President Obama expressed great hope for the U.S.-Vietnam partnership going forward, rooted ”in the friendship and shared aspiration of our peoples."

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