Biden says visit to Vietnam was not about containing China

US President is on a 24-hour trip to further boost ties with former foe

US President Joe Biden in Hanoi, Vietnam, shortly after arriving on Sunday. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden arrived in Vietnam on Sunday, where he said his goal was to maintain stability around the world through promoting US ties with Asian nations, rather than containing China's influence in the region.

Mr Biden's visit after the G20 Leaders' Summit in India comes after Hanoi elevated the US, which waged war in Vietnam for more than a decade, to its highest tier of international ties – comprehensive strategic partner.

“We have an opportunity to strengthen alliances around the world to maintain stability,” Mr Biden said, shortly after landing.

“That’s what this trip is all about. It’s not about containing China. It’s about having a stable base.”

Mr Biden then held a meeting with General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other Vietnamese leaders.

At the G20 summit, world leaders agreed on a joint statement laying out shared views on climate change and economic development, but stopped short of explicitly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it’s very important that the G20 spoke as one,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday.

“To some extent, maybe it’s the G19 because obviously Russia is also here – it’s part of the G20 – but the fact that we have a statement coming out collectively of, again, affirming the importance of Ukraine, its territorial integrity and sovereignty, that speaks loudly."

A G20 Foreign Ministers Summit in March failed to produce a joint declaration condemning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, amid objections from Beijing and Moscow over how to refer to the war.

Mr Biden went to the G20 also hoping to show US commitment to developing countries and provide them with an alternative to China's Belt and Road global development plan.

The Biden administration has already requested $3.3 billion from the US Congress to fund the World Bank, which officials say will generate $25 billion in extra capacity.

“President Biden championed an ambitious agenda to mobilise significant additional financing for development from all sources – public and private, domestic, and international,” deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said on board Air Force One.

“He rallied G20 partners to agree to collectively mobilise more concessional finance to boost the World Bank’s capacity to support low and middle-income countries."

Before Mr Biden's trip, some media reported that he might meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, amid US efforts to broker a deal normalising relations between the kingdom and Israel.

“The President exchanged brief greetings with the Crown Prince, but there was not time in that setting for a more substantive conversation,” Mr Finer said.

Ahead of Mr Biden's re-election campaign next year, his administration has been focused on further integrating Israel into the region through the Abraham Accords, a 2020 treaty through which Israel established relations with the UAE and Bahrain, then Morocco and Sudan.

Updated: September 12, 2023, 4:08 AM