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US Vice President Raises Rights Issues During Visit to Vietnam

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with activists who work on LGBT, transgender, disability rights and climate change at the U.S. Chief of Mission's residence in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 26, 2021.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris raised human rights issues with Vietnamese leaders during a visit aimed at bolstering strategic ties with the country, she said in Hanoi on Thursday.

Harris said she specifically discussed the release of political dissidents but did not disclose the results, saying only at a news conference the U.S. must “continue to speak up, when necessary, about human rights issues.”

Vietnam has been the target of global criticism for limiting free speech, a free press and clamping down on those it considers political dissidents.

“We're not going to shy away from difficult conversations," Harris said.

Harris did not respond directly when a reporter asked why the U.S. criticizes China for human rights abuses while aiming for a stronger relationship with Vietnam.

“Difficult conversations often must be had with the people that you otherwise may have a partnership with,” Harris said. “And we do have a partnership with Vietnam.”

Her visit to Vietnam ended a weeklong trip to Southeast Asia when she also met with senior officials in Singapore in an effort to counter China’s influence in the region.

Harris said the U.S. reached a number of agreements with Singapore and Vietnam, including one involving cyber defense cooperation. She said the U.S. also delivered 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam on Thursday, on top of the 5 million that had previously been delivered.

VOA's Steve Herman contributed to this report. Some information came from the Associated Press.