US President Obama departs to Vietnam in historic visit

May 21, 2016 20:48


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President Barack Obama left Washington on Saturday for a historic visit to Vietnam.

Obama, who will make stops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, will meet Vietnam's new president, Tran Dai Quang, as well as its new prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

He will also meet dissidents and will deliver a speech to the Vietnamese people, Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said.

The president is still grappling with a decision on whether to lift the US arms embargo on Vietnam, a move that would bolster ties between former wartime enemies Washington and Hanoi to counter a rising China.

Ending the embargo - something Vietnam has long sought - would sweep away one of the last major vestiges of the Vietnam War era as Obama makes his first trip there beginning on Monday.

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