| 1 March 2024, Friday |

Biden to visit Vietnam next month as Washington seeks closer ties

As Washington seeks tighter connections in a region dominated by China, US President Joe Biden will visit Vietnam next month to speak with top officials on matters ranging from technology and the economy to regional stability and climate change.

According to the White House, Biden will meet with Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other top Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi on September 10 before heading to Alaska to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Washington is eager to upgrade relations with Hanoi, considering it a key partner in the region at a time when U.S. relations with Beijing are increasingly strained. Vietnam, meanwhile, must weigh the reaction of its powerful neighbor as China becomes more assertive.

The Biden administration has sought to strengthen U.S. relations in Asia, and Biden will arrive in Vietnam from India, where he is scheduled to visit from Sept. 7-10 and attend a G20 summit. However, he is not attending the ASEAN meetings early next month, instead dispatching Vice President Kamala Harris.

Diplomats have said it would be a significant disappointment if Biden did go to the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits in Jakarta.

While in Hanoi, Biden and Vietnamese officials will discuss deepening the two countries’ ties as well as boosting “a technology-focused and innovation-driven Vietnamese economy”, the White House said in a statement after Biden earlier this month announced plans for the trip.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said the visits by the leaders of the two countries will strengthen the Vietnam-U.S. relationship.

The visits “will develop bilateral relationship in a sustainable, substantive and long-term manner, contributing to peace, stability and cooperation in the region and in the world”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said in a statement.

Washington sees Vietnam as a critical regional partner, especially as memories of the Vietnam War recede. Biden and Trong spoke over the phone in March, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a visit to the Southeast Asian country a month later.

Vietnam’s largest export market is the United States, and the two erstwhile adversaries are commemorating the 10th anniversary of a “comprehensive partnership” this year.

Trong, Vietnam’s most prominent figure, was the first foreign leader to visit President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year, following the Chinese leader’s unprecedented third term.

  • Reuters