US presses Vietnam over human rights
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US President Barack Obama (R) and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang pledge deeper ties and seek trade pact progress but are split on human rights issues.U.S. President Barack Obama on July 25 called on Vietnam’s leader to improve on human rights but the former enemy nations pledged to work together on trade and tensions with China.
President Truong Tan Sang, only the second Vietnamese head of state to visit Washington since the normalization of relations in 1975, was jeered by hundreds of Vietnamese Americans, many waving the flags of the former Saigon regime and chanting slogans that were occasionally audible inside the White House.
“We all recognize the extraordinarily complex history between the U.S. and Vietnam. Step by step we have been able to establish a degree of mutual respect and trust,” Obama said. He said he had nevertheless pressed Sang on human rights, a top concern of U.S. lawmakers, who have voiced alarm at the detention of dozens of bloggers and government critics. “The U.S. continues to believe that all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly,” Obama told reporters at the Oval Office with Sang at his side. “We had a very candid conversation about both the progress that Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain,” he said.
In a joint statement, Sang promised that Vietnam would sign the U.N. Convention Against Torture by the end of the year. Vietnam is one of the few holdouts from the treaty, which critics say is ineffective and includes even China, which is often faulted on human rights.