U.S. President Barack Obama says several activists were prevented from meeting him, raising concerns about the country's human rights. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama said several Vietnamese civil society members were prevented from meeting him on Tuesday (May 24) and that, despite great strides made by the country, Washington had concerns about the limits it puts on political freedom. Obama met about six activists and said there were "significant areas of concern" about political freedom. He praised those Vietnamese who were "willing to make their voices heard". Two activists who spoke to Reuters said an intellectual, Nguyen Quang A, had been taken away by unknown men before he had hoped to met Obama, citing his relatives. Reuters could not verify the information and Vietnam's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Obama was due to lay out more of his plan for stronger ties with Vietnam on the second day of his visit, after scrapping an arms ban, the last big hurdle between two countries drawn together by concern over China's military buildup. Washington had for years said a lifting of the ban would require concrete steps by Vietnam in allowing freedom of speech, worship and assembly and releasing political prisoners.