Harris says she urged Vietnam to free political dissidents

US Vice President Kamala Harris has said she raised issues of human rights abuses and restrictions on political activism in her conversations with Vietnamese leaders this week, but offered no indication those talks bore fruit reported AP. “We’re not going to shy away from difficult conversations. Difficult conversations often must be had with the people that you otherwise may have a partnership with,” she said at a news conference in Hanoi on Thursday.

Harris said she spoke with Vietnamese leaders in particular about the release of political dissidents, but did not describe the outcome of those conversations. Vietnam has faced criticism for restrictions on freedom of expression and on the press and a crackdown on people it deems political dissidents. But Harris didn’t respond when asked why the US criticises China for similar abuses, but is seeking a stronger partnership with Vietnam. Harris participated in a “changemakers” event with activists working on LGBTQ rights and climate change. Harris unveiled a number of new US agreements and aid for both countries in areas, including cyber defence cooperation with Singapore and coronavirus aid to Vietnam, which is struggling with a new surge in the virus and low vaccination rates. But on Thursday, she turned her attention to issues surrounding civil liberties and human rights in Vietnam.