Friday, July 23, 2010

Secretary Clinton In Hanoi

Published: July 22, 2010

HANOI, Vietnam — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chided Vietnam on Thursday for intolerance of dissent and infringement of Internet freedom, even as she celebrated its 15 years of normalized relations with the United States.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a news conference with Pham Gia Khiem, Vietnam’s foreign minister, in Hanoi on Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton said she raised the issues of jailed democracy activists, attacks on religious groups and curbs on social-networking Web sites during a meeting with Vietnam’s deputy prime minister, Pham Gia Khiem.

The United States will prod Vietnam’s government “to pursue reforms and protect basic rights and freedoms,” she said at a news conference, as Mr. Khiem stood expressionless beside her.

“Vietnam, with its extraordinary, dynamic population, is on the path to becoming a great nation, with an unlimited potential,” she added. “That is among the reasons we expressed concern.”

Mr. Khiem replied that human rights policies were rooted in unique cultural and historical circumstances. He cited what he said was President Obama’s observation that countries should be allowed to choose their own paths and that human rights should not be imposed from outside.

The timing of Mrs. Clinton’s remarks here, at the start of a two-day stop that includes an Asian regional security meeting, suggested that she wanted to make her point and move on. She emphasized that the United States would increase cooperation on trade and investment, and would do more to help people suffering lingering effects from Agent Orange, a chemical spray the American military used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War.

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