Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden agreed in a telephone call on Wednesday to “promote, develop and deepen” ties, Vietnamese state media reported.
The call, a rare engagement for Biden with a foreign leader who is not a head of state or government, came as the US president is hosting a second Summit for Democracy.
The White House said in a statement that Biden reinforced in the call a US commitment to a strong, prosperous, resilient and independent Vietnam.
The two countries would work together to address regional challenges and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the statement said.
The US is Vietnam’s largest export market, and the two former foes are celebrating the 10th anniversary of a “comprehensive partnership” this year.
However, Hanoi has been careful to ensure that its US ties do not alienate neighboring China, while Vietnam’s human rights record has been a sticking point in the relationship with the US, with Washington critical of Hanoi’s intolerance of dissent, and frequent jailing and harassment of those who speak out against it.
ASEAN, HUMAN RIGHTS
Biden also emphasized a US commitment to the centrality of the ASEAN, respect for human rights and cooperation on climate goals, the statement said.
Experts have said that a push by the US to upgrade ties with Vietnam this year is facing resistance in Hanoi over concerns that China could see it as hostile at a time of tension between the two superpowers.
“The two leaders will assign relevant authorities of the two sides to discuss details for further promoting ties,” the party’s official newspaper, Nhan Dan, reported.
The report said that Biden and Trong, who is Vietnam’s most powerful figure, repeated invitations to visit each other’s country.
Trong had spoken with former US presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump when they were in office.
“Vietnam consistently pursues its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, diversification and multilateralization of relations, active and proactive global integration,” Nhan Dan cited Trong as telling Biden.
Trong in October last year was the first foreign leader to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing after he secured a third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
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