Lawmakers urge Obama to press visiting Vietnamese leader on human rights

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He specifically asked Obama to urge Sang to repeal laws prohibiting freedom of association and expression, release political prisoners and loosen Internet restrictions.

“Mr. President, President Sang’s visit to Washington is a unique opportunity to inspire the Vietnamese people who are yearning for freedom,” Royce wrote. “I respectfully request that you make the most of this chance by vocally supporting a human rights agenda.”

Sang's visit is expected to focus largely on the United States' so-called pivot to Asia and negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade deal, of which Vietnam is a part. The White House however said human rights would be a priority when it announced the visit earlier this month.

“The president welcomes this opportunity to discuss with President Sang how to further strengthen our partnership on regional strategic issues and enhance our cooperation with ASEAN,” the White House said at the time. “The president also looks forward to discussing human rights, emerging challenges such as climate change, and the importance of completing a high standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.”

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