At White House Meeting, the Ball is in Vietnam’s Court

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Today Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will become the first ASEAN leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration. The meeting is a part of his first official trip to the U.S. after more than a year holding the premiership. Phuc’s visit continues a series of high-level bilateral meetings between U.S. and Vietnamese leaders over the past years – most recently, President Barack Obama’s three-day tour in Hanoi in 2016, where the lifting of the arms sales embargo marked a new high in the countries’ relationship.

Much has changed since then, and Prime Minister Phuc’s visit may be the start of an important turn in the two countries’ relationship due to its special timing. Meeting with President Donald Trump in the very early months of his presidency, Vietnam now has the chance to shape the dialogue with one of its key partners for the next four or eight years. The visit may also help Vietnam take the lead in ASEAN’s engagement with the U.S., which is particularly significant against the backdrop of an increasingly complex regional security and economic environment.

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