U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong after they spoke to reporters following their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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President Barack Obama and the leader of Vietnam's Communist Party Tuesday held what both called "candid" discussions on human rights during a historic White House meeting as the onetime enemies seek to bolster ties.A few hundred protesters rallied outside the White House as Trong arrived, calling for expanded human rights in Vietnam – an issue that has sparked concern among some American lawmakers about deepening ties.Obama is seeking to reach a 12-nation Pacific trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would include Vietnam.Republican Congressman Chris Smith, one of those who signed the letter, and others in Congress would like to see Vietnam excluded from the TPP until it makes progress on political rights.Part of taking it to the next level could be the lifting of a U.S. ban on weapons sales, which Vietnam is keen to achieve.
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