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Kerry hails US-Vietnam ties, urges progress on rights

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday hailed the transformation of relations with Vietnam 20 years after ties were established, but warned Hanoi’s poor rights record stood in the way of deeper bonds between the former wartime foes. Kerry, on the last leg of a trip through the Middle East and Asia, said progress on rights issues was key to boosting the partnership between the two countries, which fought a bitter decades-long war that ended in 1975. “We have seen some positive steps on human rights in Vietnam over the past year,” Kerry said after meeting Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, pointing to the release of several high-profile prisoners of conscience, some of whom now live in exile in the United States.

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