Vietnam's PM says ready to visit US to promote ties

By Reuters/My Pham   March 10, 2017 | 12:20 am PT
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc hopes to work with President Trump's new administration, particularly over trade.

Vietnam would have been one of the top potential beneficiaries of the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement cancelled by U.S. President Trump, but it has also been building links with the U.S. amid a maritime dispute with China.

"Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he is ready to visit the U.S. to promote Vietnam-U.S. ties," the Vietnamese government said on its official Facebook page on Friday.

Phuc also expressed his wish for the United States to continue being Vietnam's leading trade partner.

Former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited the United States in February 2016 to attend a U.S.-ASEAN summit, but the last official state visit was in 2008.

In a telephone call shortly after his election last year, Trump told Phuc he wanted to further strengthen fast-warming ties between the two countries.

Vietnam advanced ties with the United States to a new level under former U.S. President Barack Obama, keen on the United States maintaining its security presence in Asia in the face of territorial claims by neighbouring China.

China claims most of the South China Sea, while Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei claim parts of the sea that commands strategic shipping lanes and has rich fishing grounds along with oil and gas deposits.

Washington lifted a U.S. lethal arms embargo on Vietnam last May, allowing closer defence links and joint military exercises.

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