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U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Vietnam’s prime minister to visit the United States, the Southeast Asian nation’s government said on its website on Friday. Vietnam took ties with the United States to a new level under former U.S. President Barack Obama, keen for the United States to maintain its security presence in Asia in the face of territorial claims by giant neighbour China.
The two governments have expressed desire to further promote ties and strengthen their relationship since Trump’s election win last November.
U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster has delivered a letter of invitation from Trump to Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, now on a visit to the United States, the government added.
Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also said he was ready to visit the United States to promote ties between the two countries. Trump will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam in November.
Vietnam had been one of the top potential beneficiaries of the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement canceled by Trump, but it has also been building links to the United States amid a maritime dispute with China.
China claims most of the South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam claim parts of the sea, which commands strategic sea lanes and has rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits.
Washington lifted a U.S. lethal arms embargo on Vietnam last May, allowing closer defense links and some joint military exercises.