US Secretary of State John Kerry has praised the warming of relations with Vietnam twenty years after ties were established while also urging the country to improve its human rights record.
On the last leg of a trip through the Middle East and Asia, Kerry hinted that progress on this issue would lead to further easing of an embargo.
“Progress on human rights and the rule of law will provide the foundation for a deeper and more sustainable strategy and strategic partnership between the United States and Vietnam. Only you can decide the pace and direction of the process of building this partnership. But there are basic principles we will defend: No one should be punished for speaking their mind so long as they are peaceful,” said Kerry.
Last year the US partially lifted a 40-year ban on arms sales to Hanoi, but the Foreign Minister called for the ban to be completed lifted.
“In terms of security and defence, one of the remaining issues is for the US to remove part of the embargo. We hope that the US will remove the rest of the embargo soon to increase cooperation on security and defence between the the countries,” said Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Washington is pushing Vietnam to boost its influence in Asia to counteract China’s dominance, in particular in the South China Sea, where Hanoi is locked in a dispute with Beijing over island chains.