Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 7, 2015. (AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday extolled the virtues of reconciling with former enemies as he marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam.Despite the resumption of ties and a surge in U.S.-Vietnam trade, education and cultural exchanges over the past two decades, the U.S. remains concerned about Vietnam's human rights record. Kerry said Vietnam would not reach its full potential nor enjoy the fullest partnership possible with the United States unless it improves rights conditions. If Vietnam expects to benefit from the protections of international rules and regulations it must also uphold international standards, Kerry said.Kerry also encouraged Vietnam to adopt a Pacific Rim trade pact that is currently being negotiated and he reiterated the U.S. commitment to helping the country protect and patrol its territorial waters. U.S. officials say Washington is exploring other ways to assist Vietnam in bolstering its maritime law enforcement capabilities but that any further easing in the arms restrictions would not happen until there are significant human rights improvements.
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