November 11, 2011
HONOLULU, Hawaii: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that Vietnam must improve its human rights record if it seeks better relations as the two countries held talks on the issue.
"We have made it clear to Vietnam that if we are to develop a strategic partnership, as both nations desire, Vietnam must do more to respect and protect its citizens’ rights," Clinton said at the East-West Center in Hawaii.
Clinton, who is in the tropical US state for an Asia-Pacific summit, was scheduled later Thursday to meet Vietnam’s new President Truong Tan Sang.
The talks came as the United States and Vietnam closed two days of regular talks on human rights, which were held in Washington.
President Barack Obama’s administration has frequently urged progress by Vietnam on human rights but it has nonetheless rapidly expanded relations, which both sides have sought amid the rise of China.
In the midst of the human rights dialog, Vietnam jailed two practitioners of the spiritual movement Falungong for beaming radio broadcasts into China.
In a joint letter coinciding with the Washington talks, human rights groups including Reporters Without Borders urged Vietnam to free dissidents such as Nguyen Tien Trung and Nguyen Van Ly.
The letter said that Vietnam should fear damaging its investment climate through the lack of freedoms.
"Businesses are becoming more aware that operating in repressive countries leads to bad press and they are under growing pressure to withhold investment in those nations," it said.