Hanoi: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Vietnam to improve its human rights record to guarantee sustainable economic progress and greater political stability for its future.
“From my point of view, nations are most successful when human rights are respected,” Obama said in a speech at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi.
“Upholding these rights is not a threat to stability but actually reinforces stability and is the foundation of progress. Vietnam will do it differently than the US. But there are these basic principles that I think we all have to try to work on and improve,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that the US and Vietnam had differences, but avoided any direct mention of Vietnam’s poor human rights record and limited himself to making a generic defence of the importance of freedom of expression, association, religion and the need for a democratic system.
Ahead of his speech, the US president also met a dozen activists the meeting lacked the attendance of some dissidents arrested on Monday by the Vietnamese regime, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Obama is travelling on Tuesday afternoon to Ho Chi Minh city, where he is scheduled to meet businessmen and inaugurate an American university before flying to Japan to participate in the G7 Summit.