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Young Vietnamese quiz Obama on rap, weed and good looks

Thursday, May 26, 2016, 14:49 GMT+7

Barack Obama fielded questions Wednesday on everything from rap and weed smoking to his good looks at a lively meeting with young Vietnamese.

The US President, on the final leg of a three-day trip to Vietnam before flying to Japan, held one of his trademark town hall gatherings with hundreds of youngsters in the country's buzzing commercial and creative capital Ho Chi Minh City.

The president received a huge cheer as he took to the stage.

Suboi, one of the country's best known female rap artists, serenaded Obama with Vietnamese lyrics about whether people are really happy if they have lots of money.

VxThguuJ.jpgIn this image made from pool video, Vietnamese rapper Suboi raps during a town-hall style event hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. Photo: AFP

Seemingly delighted with the exchange, Obama praised the journey of hip-hop "which started out as an expression of poor African Americans" and became a "global phenomenon".

"Imagine if at the time when rap was starting off our government had said 'No' because some of the things you say are offensive, or some of the lyrics are rude, or you're cursing too much?" he said.

"If you try to suppress the arts then you are suppressing the deepest dreams and aspirations of a people," he added.

Earlier another young man began his question with: "Mr President, you're so handsome."

To which Obama quickly quipped "Oh. You can just stop there if you want."

Dreaming of a father

Another asked whether Internet posts about Obama's alleged marijuana smoking as a youth were true.

"I don't know if that's true," Obama quickly remarked, further dousing the issue with a warning: "Don't believe everything you read on the Internet."

But that particular exchange also prompted some soul-searching from Obama about leadership and growing out of a rebellious teenage phase prompted by the absence of a father.

"As I got older I realised that instead of worrying about the father who wasn't there, I should start worrying more about what can I do to take more responsibility for my own life," he added.

The environment was a subject that repeatedly came up, as Vietnam is acutely vulnerable to climate change.

Obama said he recognised the freedom western industrialised countries have had to pollute the earth for far longer than developing ones, but urged all countries to work together to prevent disaster.

"The problem is, if a country like China or Vietnam or India took the same development path the West did, we're all going to be under water."

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AFP/Tuoi Tre News

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