The trade deal has “enormous potential” for economic growth for both countries, he said.
More telling is one of Trong’s other engagements – a dinner reception hosted by the USA Chamber of Commerce, bastion of American free enterprise.
“What is of utmost importance is we have transformed from ex- enemies to friends”, he told reporters. The President looks forward to discussing with General Secretary Trong ways to strengthen further the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, reflecting on the accomplishments of the past twenty years since the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations.
Popular sentiment in Vietnam is generally hostile towards China’s assertive maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Obama also met with Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang at the White House in 2013 and with the country’s prime minister previous year at a summit in Asia.
“There has been speculation among some foreign affairs experts in Washington that Obama could make his first visit to Vietnam this fall during his trip to Asia, but the White House has not confirmed such a visit”. Last week, negotiations gained momentum when Obama signed legislation limiting the ability of Congress to amend or block a final deal. That includes freeing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, repealing restrictive laws that deny freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Trong is the de facto leader of Vietnam despite holding no official government post, and is visiting Washington to boost ties 20 years after the USA and Vietnam normalized relations following the Vietnam War.
A separate group of nine members of the House led by Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican, wrote Obama to urge the release of journalists and human rights activists being held by the Vietnam government.