Clinton Attends ASEAN Meeting
Clinton Attends ASEAN Meeting
After stops in Islamabad, Kabul and Seoul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winds up her weeklong diplomatic tour in Hanoi, for this year's meeting of ASEAN. On her agenda for the meeting of Asian and Pacific leaders is North Korea and Myanmar.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:
And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Vietnam's capital - Hanoi. It's her last stop on a weeklong tour. She'll be attending a conference of Southeast Asian nations. Among the issues Clinton is there to press - nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Myanmar. Also, human rights abuses in Vietnam. NPR's Jackie Northam has been traveling with the secretary all week. We've caught her now in Hanoi.
Good morning, Jackie.
JACKIE NORTHAM: Good morning, Mary Louise.
KELLY: OK. So Secretary Clinton is now in Vietnam, as we say. I understand right when she got there she went to meet with her counterpart at the foreign ministry. Do we know what they discussed?
NORTHAM: Well, they held a press conference afterwards, and Clinton said during that press conference that they discussed a wide range of subjects. And among them, the relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. The two countries normalized relations 15 years ago and economic ties and the like.
They also talked about counter-nuclear proliferation efforts. So they talked about North Korea. And then they discussed human rights abuses in Vietnam. And let's listen to a bit of what Clinton said during the press conference where she addressed this issue. And she prefaced her comment, saying that Vietnam is a dynamic country with unlimited potential.
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): And that is among the reasons we express concern about arrest and conviction of people for peaceful dissent -attacks on religious groups and curbs on Internet freedom.
NORTHAM: Clinton brought out the issue of human rights abuses once again this morning. And in response, Vietnam's Foreign Minister Khiem said that human rights can't be imposed from the outside, meaning this is Vietnam's issue to deal with.
KELLY: Now, I understand the Vietnamese had another issue that they wanted to talk about, and that's Agent Orange. People may remember the U.S. dropped millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals during the Vietnam War. The effects still linger there. What did Secretary Clinton have to say about that?
NORTHAM: Well, she said that she and Foreign Minister Khiem did talk about Agent Orange and its consequences for the people of Vietnam. And, you know, there are birth defects and cancers. And there's also enormous damage to the environment that simply hasn't gone away since the end of the war.
Clinton did say that the U.S. has been working with Vietnam for about nine years to try to reverse the effects, to try to address this problem. And she said - she committed that she would work to increase that cooperation and try to get something done.
KELLY: Jackie, let me get back to the nuclear proliferation issue for a minute. Secretary Clinton is in Hanoi, as we've said, for this regional security forum. Those talks are expected to really focus on the threat from North Korea in particular. Is that right?
NORTHAM: Yes, indeed. This is a forum that Clinton can raise this issue. She will talk about North Korea. And she'll probably have to explain the U.S. decision to implement more sanctions against that country. But she's also expected to talk about Myanmar and concerns that North Korea may be exporting nuclear material and equipment to Myanmar.
But these meetings are not a great forum for that. As a rule, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations doesn't publicly condemn Myanmar. They usually say that they prefer quiet diplomacy to try to get countries like Myanmar to change its ways, but it's not something that's really brought out in the open.
KELLY: Well, it has been a very long, very full week for the secretary and for you, Jackie. I think we've talked to you in just about every stop -Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Korea, now Vietnam. Before I let you go, though, I just want to ask - it's safe to assume she's maybe most nervous about an event that is looming back here at home for her.
NORTHAM: That's right. I mean, Secretary Clinton, you know, has spent the week dealing with key national security interests - war and nuclear concerns and that type of thing. But when she gets back to the United States she can then turn at least part of her attention to her daughter Chelsea's wedding at the end of the month.
And while she was here this morning, meeting with the foreign minister, Clinton was given a couple of gifts for Chelsea here in Vietnam. And one of them is a portrait of the two of them - Hillary and Chelsea. It's taken from a photo when they were last here in 2000. And it's a painting, but it's covered in precious gems - rubies and sapphires and quartz. And it was done by a local artist who really wanted to get this picture to them. And apparently he worked all through last night to get it finished in time.
KELLY: Wow. Sounds like she's got some thank you notes to write then.
(Soundbite of laughter)
KELLY: OK. Thanks so much, Jackie.
NORTHAM: My pleasure.
KELLY: That's NPR's foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam, speaking to us there from Hanoi.
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