News / Asia

Vietnamese President to Visit Washington

Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang arrives in Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 27, 2013.
Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang arrives in Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 27, 2013.
Marianne Brown
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang has been invited to Washington to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on July 25 - the first visit by a Vietnamese head-of-state since 2007. The news comes as the trial of a dissident lawyer highlighted human rights issues in the communist country.

Although Vietnam has been pressing the United States for this visit for more than a year, the decision appears to have been made at the last minute, said defense analyst and professor Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

“John Kerry was supposed to go in July but Syria overtook and the Vietnamese were saying we haven’t heard back from the Americans, nothing’s happening on that front, all of a sudden something has happened, I’m just reading the tea leaves here, I think it’s part of [President] Sang’s visit to China and the very positive atmosphere that’s created,” he explained.

Vietnamese diplomacy maintains a careful balancing act between the United States and China, particularly regarding China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.  

During President Sang’s visit to Beijing last month the two communist countries agreed to set up an emergency hotline to help quickly resolve territorial disputes that have occasionally strained relations between them.

The United States is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner after China, and the two countries have boosted military-to-military talks in recent years. But there are continuing differences over U.S. objections to Vietnam’s record on human rights.

Earlier this week, Vietnamese authorities indefinitely postponed the trial of dissident lawyer Le Quoc Quan. The outspoken blogger is one of Vietnam’s most active human rights advocates. Thayer said the trial’s postponement and Sang’s upcoming visit could be connected.

“It would seem postponing the trial at the moment with Sang’s visit could be related, I’m guessing it is," said Thayer. "Then the Vietnamese have the opportunity afterwards to decide what action to take.”

Quan, 41, wrote a blog and took part in several anti-China marches in the capital.  He was often quoted in foreign media on human rights issues.

In 2006 he spent five months in Washington researching civil society under a National Endowment for Democracy fellowship. He was arrested four days after returning to Vietnam and released several months later.

In the run-up to his arrest in December, he complained about increasing police harassment of him and his family.

He is accused of tax evasion, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail. Human Rights Watch described the charge as “spurious.”

Vigil for Le Quoc Quan, July 7, 2013Vigil for Le Quoc Quan, July 7, 2013
x
Vigil for Le Quoc Quan, July 7, 2013
Vigil for Le Quoc Quan, July 7, 2013
His brother Le Dinh Quan was arrested in October last year on the same charges.
At a candlelit vigil on Sunday in the capital, hundreds of people gathered to show their support for the lawyer. Among them was his mother Nguyen Thi Tram.

She said she has not been allowed to visit or speak to her two sons since they were detained.

Trade and the South China Sea dispute are expected to top the agenda in Washington, but neither side can avoid the thorny issue of human rights.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid