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Obama, Vietnamese leader hold landmark Oval Office talks

Barack Obama

Washington:  With an eye on increasing Chinese influence in the region, US President Barack Obama held historic talks with the Vietnamese Communist Party’s leader at the White House, marking a significant transition of former enemies into “comprehensive partners”.

“Obviously, there has been a difficult history between our two countries in the 20th century. And, there continue to be significant differences in political philosophy and political systems between our two countries,” Obama said in his remarks at a joint media appearance with Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Trong is Vietnam’s first party general secretary to visit the US, and he met Obama yesterday at the Oval Office of the While Office.

“But because, I think, of the efforts of leaders in both parties here in the United States, as well as the leadership in Vietnam over successive years, what we’ve seen is the emergence of a constructive relationship that is based on mutual respect, and that has benefitted the peoples of both countries,” Obama said.

In his remarks, Trong acknowledged the historic significance of the meeting, and said, “I think that 20 years ago, not too many people would imagine a meeting — interesting meeting, a substantive meeting between the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the President of the United States.”

“We had a cordial, constructive, positive and frank discussion with each other. What is of utmost importance is that we have been transformed from former enemies to become friends, partners — comprehensive partners. And I’m convinced that our relationship will continue to grow in the future,” Tong said.

Obama said the two leaders discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.

They also discussed the importance of resolving maritime disputes in the South China Sea and throughout the Asia Pacific in accordance with international law, to ensure that the prosperity and freedom of navigation that has underwritten the enormous economic growth that’s taken place in the region continues for decades to come, he said.

“Both countries are concerned about recent developments in the South China Sea that have increased tensions, eroded trust, and threatened to undermine peace, security, and stability,” the two leaders, in a joint statement later, said.

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