Nguyen Xuan Phuc will travel to the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week for the first time as Vietnam’s president.
A VOA source said Phuc is expected to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 22. The annual session of the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to open on September 14 in New York with the first high-level joint discussion taking place on September 21.
The South China Morning Post on September 11 also reported that President Phuc will travel to the US next week to attend the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The Hongkong-based newspaper quoted Pham Quang Minh, former rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, as saying that it is not excluded that Phuc will visit Washington on the occasion. this, when commenting on the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Hanoi last weekend.
Vietnam’s official media has not released any information about Mr. Phuc’s visit to the US. The White House has not announced anything about the upcoming visit of a Vietnamese leader. The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to VOA’s request for comment for this information.
According to the New York Times, leaders from 83 countries are expected to speak at the UNGA session, which will be held with direct attendance by heads of state from Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, and China among others along with video meetings on the sidelines for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Mr. Phuc attended the 73rd session of UNGA in New York in September 2018, then as the Prime Minister of Vietnam. During his attendance at the 75th session of UNGA last September via an online format, Mr. Phuc delivered a speech calling on countries around the world to unite against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not clear whether Mr. Phuc will speak when he attends the meeting in New York next week.
Last month, Mr. Phuc hosted US Vice President Kamala Harris on her first visit to Vietnam. At this meeting, Ms. Harris criticized China’s “bullying” actions in the South China Sea and called on Hanoi to join the US in challenging Beijing over its “excessive claims.”
During a meeting with Mr. Phuc in Hanoi late last month, Ms. Harris expressed her wish that the US and Vietnam upgrade to a strategic partnership. However, the Vietnamese side chose to maintain the comprehensive partnership that was established in 2013.
When asked by a reporter about Vietnam’s considerations before the proposal to upgrade relations from the US vice president, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi on September 9 did not give a direct answer but said that Vietnam “practices an independent and self-reliant foreign policy” and “always considers the United States as one of its top important partners.”
The SCMP newspaper commented that the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Vietnam over the weekend, in which Mr. Wang announced to give Vietnam 3 million more doses of anti-COVID vaccine and called for vigilance against the intervention of powerful forces outside the region, aiming for the time before Mr. Phuc leaves for the US next week.
The most recent visit of a Vietnamese leader to the White House was in May 2017. At the invitation of President Donald Trump, Mr. Phuc made an official visit to Washington, then as Vietnam’s prime minister, and became the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House after Mr. Trump was elected as US president.