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Oct 29, 2020 / 00:11

UPDATE: Mike Pompeo makes surprise visit to Vietnam

Pompeo's Vietnam visit had not been included in an initial Asia tour announced earlier by the US Department of State.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo will visit Vietnam on October 29-30 to “mark the celebration of the 25th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations.”

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi in 2019. Photo: Ngoc Thang

The two-day visit will be made at the invitation of the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on its website Wednesday.

No details of the visit have been disclosed so far.

In an earlier announcement by the US Department of State, Mike Pompeo is on his Asia tour from October 25 to October 30 to four countries namely India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.

The Vietnam visit was not included in the announcement.

The tour is aimed to promote the US's free and open Indo-Pacific and reinforce the relations between Washington and each country.

Foreign media reported that Pompeo's visit to Vietnam is a surprise and the two sides have only three days to prepare for it. 

Carl Thayer, emeritus professor of the University of New South Wales, Australia, said Secretary Pompeo has top three priorities in his Vietnam visit, (1) to discuss how Vietnam and the US can cooperate to advance a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (2) to promote cooperation in combatting the coronavirus related to vaccines and therapeutics and post-Covid recovery and (3) US participation in ASEAN’s end of year round of summits and high-level meetings which follow US elections on November 3.

Secretary Pompeo will be keen to determine what practical steps Vietnam will be willing to take to advance the FOIP. He might raise stepped up cooperation between the two coast guards to combat illegal Chinese fishing, funding for specific infrastructure projects, and possibly permitting US maritime reconnaissance aircraft, such as the P-8 Poseidon, to fly from Vietnam, added Mr. Thayer.

Mike Pompeo is the fourth foreign minister to visit Vietnam after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Vietnam this year after South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Szijjártó Péter.