Vietnam PM faces Australian protests during visit
CANBERRA - Vietnam Prime Minister Phan
Van Khai will discuss economic reform with Australia during his his
first visit here starting Wednesday, but will also face protests from
Australia's anti-communist Vietnamese community.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Monday he and
Khai would discuss the Asian economic crisis, economic reform and
improved financial sector management in the region.
But Australia's Vietnamese community, which numbers about
140,000, said it was planning a peaceful demonstration against Khai
at parliament house in Canberra.
``It is expected that hundreds of Vietnamese Australians will take
part in this demonstration to voice their protests against the ongoing
and escalating human rights violations in Vietnam,'' the ``Vietnamese
Community in Australia'' said in a statement.
Former Communist Party chief Do Muoi was the last senior
Vietnamese leader to visit Australia in 1995. Muoi's trip was marred
by controversy when Howard, then opposition leader, refused to
meet him and protests turned violent.
Khai arrives in Australia on Wednesday, starting his four-day visit in
the southern city of Melbourne with business talks. On Thursday, he
will meet Howard and other ministers in Canberra and will travel to
Sydney on Friday for further business talks.
``I look forward to Mr Khai's visit as an opportunity for Australia
and Vietnam to explore new areas for growth and cooperation
between us,'' Howard said in a statement.
Australia's economic ties with Vietnam have steadily strengthened
with exports to Vietnam growing more than 60 percent last year to
A$386 million (US$244 million). Two-way trade last year exceeded
A$1 billion for the first time.
Reuters - March 29, 1999.