US: Trade pact best leverage to improve Vietnam human rights

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2015 4:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. official says Vietnam's desire to be in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact is the best leverage Washington has to press for improved human rights there.

Tom Malinowski is the State Department's point man on human rights. He told reporters Friday that Vietnam has shown greater restraint in arrests and prosecution of dissent this year as deliberations on the 12-nation pact enter their closing stages.

But he called the human rights progress "fragile" and said the U.S. is looking for positive steps from Vietnam in the weeks ahead on releasing political prisoners.

He said Vietnam has yet to meet labor rights requirements for the partnership.

Malinowski called it a critical moment in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship. He returned this week from human rights discussions with the Communist government.