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    Biden Opens Vietnam Visit by Saying the Two Countries Are ‘Critical Partners’ at a ‘Critical Time’

    Biden Opens Vietnam Visit by Saying the Two Countries Are ‘Critical Partners' at a ‘Critical Time'

    HANOI (AP) — President Joe Biden opened a brief visit to on Sunday by telling the country's leadership that the two have a chance to shape the Indo-Pacific for decades to come.

    Biden said he hoped progress could be made on climate, the economy and other issues during his 24-hour visit.

    “Vietnam and the U.S. are critical partners at what I would argue is a very critical time,” Biden told Nguyễn Phú Trọng, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, during the public portion of their meeting at party headquarters.

    Trọng agreed that their meeting presented an “excellent opportunity“ to expand bilateral ties. He thanked Biden for inviting him to visit soon.

    Vietnam is elevating its relationship with the U.S. to the status of being a comprehensive strategic partner, which one of Biden's top national security advisers said represents Vietnam's highest tier of international partnership.

    Other countries that Vietnam has extended the designation to include China and . Elevating the U.S. to the same status suggests that Vietnam wants to hedge its friendships as U.S. and European companies look for alternatives to Chinese factories.

    Biden, who arrived in Hanoi on Sunday afternoon, said last month at a fundraiser in Salt Lake City that Vietnam doesn't want a defense alliance with the U.S., “but they want relationships because they want China to know that…

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