U.S. PRESIDENT Barack Obama arrived in Ho Chi Minh City late this afternoon for the second leg of his three-day visit to Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is formerly known and still referred to as Saigon, and is famous for its role in the Vietnam War as the capital of U.S.-backed South Vietnam.
Obama plans to do some sight-seeing by taking in the Jade Pagoda, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful pagodas in southern Vietnam. It’s also a repository for religious documents and includes more than 300 statues and other relics.
Obama also scheduled a tour of the Dreamplex, a shared office space that rents workstations and rooms to startup entrepreneurs.
Obama spent the opening days of his trip in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. He arrived late Sunday.
Just before leaving for Ho Chi Minh, Obama taped the second part of an interview with CNN personality Anthony Bourdain.
Bourdain’s “Part Unknown” food travelogue is one of the network’s most popular nonfiction series. Obama and Bourdain met in a small complex in Hanoi’s Me Tri neighborhood in a heavy downpour.
Obama on Monday met Bourdain in restaurant dinner to discuss trip to Asia and his interest in the people, food and culture of Vietnam.
Earlier in the afternoon, Obama pressed Vietnam to respect rights to freedom of speech and a free press, and to associate and demonstrate that they are written into the country’s constitution.
Obama says Vietnam, which was routinely criticized for its human rights record, has nothing to fear from upholding these rights. He said doing so reinforces stability and doesn’t threaten it, that nations are in fact more successful when these rights are respected.
The communist nation holds about 100 political prisoners. There have also been more detentions this year, including some in the past week, but the government in Hanoi says that only lawbreakers are punished.
This morning, Obama pushed for ratification of a 12-nation, free-trade agreement as he speaks to the Vietnamese people, saying it will lessen reliance on one trading partner and broaden ties with more partners, including the United States.
Obama says the Trans-Pacific Partnership will lead to regional cooperation among participating nations and bring about higher wages for Vietnam’s workers. He says that would help them buy more goods from the United States.
Additional reporting by Associated Press