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US Department of State officials visit Vietnam to get religious updates

Friday, April 01, 2016, 20:05 GMT+7
US Department of State officials visit Vietnam to get religious updates
United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein is seen talking with leaders of Gia Lai Province, located in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

A delegation of the United States Department of State has paid a visit to Vietnam to study the religious situation in the country as well as cementing bilateral cooperation.

During the visit scheduled for March 26-31, the delegation led by David Saperstein, United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, also stopped by several Vietnamese provinces to work with local authorities, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

The U.S. diplomats came to Kon Tum and Gia Lai Provinces in the Central Highlands on Wednesday and Thursday, listening to local leaders talking about religious matters there.

The meeting with officials in Kon Tum and Gia Lai was convened in open and straightforward manners, Ambassador Saperstein was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying.

There had been considerable improvements in religious activities in the Southeast Asian country, he said, adding that authorities in big cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi had provided assistance for many religious groups in the areas.

According to the U.S. diplomat, the positive changes in the Vietnamese law on religion and beliefs, along with the information supplied by the leaders in the two Central Highlands provinces, have helped him understand more clearly how freedom of religion is exercised in the nation.

Prior to the local visits, Saperstein joined talks with Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security To Lam to discuss issues regarding human rights in Hanoi on Tuesday.

The deputy minister, who is also a member of the all-powerful Politburo, asserted that human rights are the objective and motivation of the Vietnamese government, state, and people in national development.

According to Lam, the visit of the U.S. delegation would foster the mutual interests and benefits of Vietnam and the U.S., contributing to peace and regional and international development, the Vietnam News Agency said, adding that includes matters regarding religious freedom and human rights.

Saperstein also expressed his joy at returning to Vietnam amid positive developments in the Vietnam-U.S. partnership, extending his gratitude to the deputy minister for accompanying him.

The visit would provide Hanoi and Washington with a better understanding of the matters both parties are interested in, Saperstein was cited by the news agency as saying.

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