Monday, June 25, 2007

Our Vietnamese communist "friends"

At a Cuba discussion I attended last week, someone noted that the United States reconciles with countries with which we have been at war, but we have never been at war with Cuba so the standoff continues. Later, I thought of that remark when I read about President Bush receiving Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in the White House last week.

President Bush’s tone was friendly but not effusive, as you might expect considering that the State Department reports the following about Vietnam’s human rights practices:

“…political opposition movements were officially prohibited and some activists arrested, although several nascent opposition organizations were not completely suppressed. The government sought to reinforce its controls over the press and the Internet. In a few instances, police abused suspects during arrest, detention, and interrogation. Prison conditions were often severe but generally did not threaten the lives of prisoners. Security forces generally operated with impunity, and there was one credible report of an extrajudicial killing by security forces.”

The Vietmamese authorities are our “friends” nonetheless, the President said, nudging gently:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you for coming. Laura and I remember very fondly our trip to your beautiful country. And I remember so very well the warm reception that we received from your government and the people of Vietnam.

I explained to the President we want to have good relations with Vietnam. And we've got good economic relations. We signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. And I was impressed by the growing Vietnamese economy.

I also made it very clear that in order for relations to grow deeper that it's important for our friends to have a strong commitment to human rights and freedom and democracy. I explained my strong belief that societies are enriched when people are allowed to express themselves freely or worship freely.

1 comment:

vietnamica said...

I've written about this issue. You're welcome to read it here: