U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates look out over North Korea from Observation Point Ouellette during a tour of the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea on July 21, 2010. Secretary Clinton announced new U.S. sanctions against North Korea's nuclear weapons program. UPI/Cherie Cullen/HO | License Photo
HANOI, Vietnam, July 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meeting with Vietnamese leaders Thursday in Hanoi, expressed concern about the status of human rights in the country.
She said she voiced her concerns during a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, citing the jailing of democracy activists, attacks on religious groups and curbing Internet social network sites, The New York Times reported.
"Vietnam, with its extraordinary, dynamic population, is on the path to becoming a great nation, with unlimited potential," Clinton said during a news conference with Khiem. "That is among the reasons we expressed concern."
Khiem said human rights were rooted in cultural and historical circumstances, citing what he said was a comment by President Obama that human rights not be imposed from outside, among other things, the Times said.
Clinton also pledged increased U.S. cooperation on trade and investment, and greater effort to help Vietnamese still suffering from Agent Orange, a chemical the U.S. military used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War.
Clinton also is in Hanoi to attend a regional security meeting sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
She was expected to bring up concerns about North Korea and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the Times said.
A recent international investigation concluded Pyongyang was responsible for sinking a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors. While ASEAN issued a statement deploring the attack, it didn't list North Korea by name as the culprit.
Myanmar, she says, poses a threat to the region's stability. She said the United States was concerned about shipments of military equipment and material from North Korea to Myanmar, as well as unconfirmed reports Myanmar is seeking help from North Korea to develop a nuclear weapons program.