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President Obama to arrive in Vietnam tonight

President Obama to arrive in Vietnam tonight

Sunday, May 22, 2016, 08:20 GMT+7

U.S President Barack Obama will arrive in Hanoi tonight, May 22, to officially begin his three-day visit to Vietnam.

The arrival comes a little earlier than the previous schedule announced on Friday by the White House, which said the U.S. president was expected to arrive at first light on Monday.

During a press call on Friday, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, said Obama would leave the U.S. on Saturday afternoon (local time), with the official program in the Southeast Asian country beginning in Hanoi on Monday, May 23.

The U.S. president will begin with an official arrival ceremony, and then have a bilateral meeting with State President of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang, after which the two leaders will be having a joint press conference together, according to the schedule.

Rhodes added that it is anticipated that Obama will have the opportunity to interact with Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the new chairperson of Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly, before being hosted at a state luncheon in the capital city.

The U.S. head of state will then have a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and later a bilateral meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Community Party of Vietnam. 

“So this series of bilateral meetings I think demonstrates the breadth of our engagement with the Vietnamese… I think what we want to demonstrate with this visit is a significant upgrade in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam as partners on many issues,” Rhodes said.

On Tuesday, May 24, Obama will give a speech to the Vietnamese people as, which Rhodes said is an opportunity for the U.S president to “step back and reflect upon the enormous progress that has been made over the last two decades in advancing the U.S.-Vietnamese bilateral relations.”

Following that speech, Obama will be leaving Hanoi and traveling to Ho Chi Minh City. 

Upon arriving in the southern metropolis, the U.S. president will be visiting the Jade Pagoda in District 1 to be able to pay tribute to and admire the cultural traditions of Vietnam, according to the schedule.

Following the pagoda visit, he will have an event that is focused on both the two countries’ commercial ties and on entrepreneurship. 

“He’ll be able to meet with some young Vietnamese entrepreneurs who are doing important work, and then he’ll be able to participate in a discussion that lifts up the benefits of TPP to both of our countries, and the ability of TPP to promote growth and job creation and also high standards on issues like labor and the environment,” Rhodes said.

On Wednesday, May 25, President Obama will host a town hall with members of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).  Launched many years ago, the YSEALI has grown by leaps and bounds to include engagements with thousands of young people across the 10 ASEAN countries, including significant participation from young Vietnamese.

After that, Obama will fly from Vietnam to Japan for the G7 Summit.

Rhodes said the upcoming visit to Vietnam of the U.S. president is “unusually long.”

“We’re spending three days in Vietnam, going to two cities, addressing the strategic, security, economic, and people-to-people relationship that we’re building, and we intend for this to be a truly impactful visit in the history of U.S.-Vietnamese relations,” he concluded.

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