WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Tuesday after meeting with members of the Vietnamese delegation to the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue:
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet today with the Vietnamese delegation to the annual U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. Progress on issues such as human rights, good governance, transparency, anti-corruption, and legal reform is absolutely critical if our bilateral relationship is going to reach its full potential, a sentiment I conveyed to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Vu Anh Quang and the other meeting attendees.
“As I discussed with Vietnam’s President, Prime Minister, and other leader’s when I visited the nation two years ago, the modest progress that Vietnam has made on these matters over the past several years has been heartening. But recent trends, including an increase in arrests and harassment of civil society activists, have been troubling. I called on the Vietnamese delegation to stop all harassment and arrests of activists; to release prisoners of conscience; to open space for civil society; to permit religious institutions to operate schools and clinics; and to take the other needed steps towards legal reform and enhanced transparency. Such steps will allow the United States and Vietnam to deepen our cooperation and develop a more robust strategic partnership.”