US official to visit Vietnam to reaffirm support following Putin’s visit

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A senior US official will visit Vietnam on Friday and Saturday to reaffirm American support, the State Department said Thursday, on the heels of a visit to the country by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is traveling to Hanoi to meet with senior Vietnamese officials and to “underscore the strong US commitment to implementing the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” the State Department said in a statement.

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Kritenbrink will also “reaffirm the United States’ support for a strong, independent, resilient and prosperous Vietnam.”

During his visit to Hanoi on Thursday, Putin pledged to deepen ties with Vietnam, to which Russia has been selling arms for decades.

Vietnam is the second and final stop on the Russian leader’s mini-tour of Asia, after North Korea on Wednesday, where the announcement of a bilateral defense agreement drew criticism from Western governments.

But speaking at an event in the US city of Atlanta, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Washington was not concerned about Vietnam’s ties to Russia.

“Vietnam has a policy and strategy of working collaboratively with many different countries, and it is not a condition of our partnership that they sever their ties to Russia or to China,” she said.

In private, US diplomats concede that they would prefer Hanoi to reduce its ties with Moscow, but they do not expect or demand it.

Washington has grown considerably closer to Vietnam in recent years, with President Joe Biden making a historic visit there in September 2023.

Largely reconciled despite the stigma of the Vietnam War, the two countries have strengthened military and economic ties.

They have also signed an enhanced strategic partnership agreement which includes strong technological content, with the United States offering its support in the face of Chinese ambitions.

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