ICC Note: It is hard to predict what the outcome of this meeting may be, and even harder to know what promises made on the human rights front will be implemented by the Vietnamese government. Nonetheless, we are encouraged to see that human rights, which include religious freedom, will be raised at a high level.
By An Nguyen and Thanh Truc
07/02/2015 Vietnam (Radio Free Asia)
U.S. President Barack Obama will bring up human rights issues with a high-ranking Vietnamese Communist Party official when they meet next week in Washington, according to a prominent activist who met with American officials to discuss the situation ahead of the visit.
Vietnamese-American community activist Nguyen Quoc Quan was among a small group of rights leaders who met with members of the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday to discuss human rights violations in Vietnam and propose possible solutions to improving the situation at its root.
The NSC members told the group that Obama would discuss the issue with Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, when they meet on July 7 in Washington, said Quan, chairman for the NGO Rallying for Democracy.
Some observers said the overall visit would be significant for U.S.-Vietnamese relations, especially with China’s growing economic and political might as well as its aggressive moves in claiming territory in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam is also a negotiating partner in the proposed U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to create a multilateral free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region, but a number of U.S. lawmakers have expressed opposition to including the country, given its current human rights record.
“Vietnam is one of the U.S.’s important allies in the Asia-Pacific,” said Vu Duc Khanh, a Vietnamese lawyer who lives in Canada and has been an observer of Vietnam politics for many years. “The U.S. wants to use Vietnam as a buffer zone in this region.”