President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he plans to soon visit Vietnam in an effort “to change our relationship,” with the Southeast Asian nation.
“I’m going to be going to Vietnam shortly, because Vietnam wants to change our relationship and become a partner,” he said, according to press pool reports from a campaign reception.
Biden’s off-camera remarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come as his administration is seeking to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The White House declined to comment Wednesday, telling CNN the administration has “nothing to speak to today.”
“On Vietnam, I don’t have any travel details to speak to today,” White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN’s Kevin Liptak during a virtual gaggle Wednesday.
“We have a very good relationship with Vietnam, and that relationship is improving, and it is improving across lots of sectors—in the security world, certainly diplomatically, and even economically, and so, we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to improve that relationship, and it’s a critical one in a very critical part of the world.”
Last year, Biden, along with leaders from Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) during a visit to Tokyo.
The announcement had marked one of the centerpieces of Biden’s visit to the continent.