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  • President Obama departs for Vietnam and Japan.

    President Obama departs for Vietnam and Japan. | Photo: Reuters

The U.S. government has expressed its interest in improving relations with more Asian countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama departed Saturday for a seven-day trip to Vietnam and Japan to strengthen bilateral relations and economic agreements.

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Both countries on his scheduled trip are part of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that the U.S. government seeks to strengthen with his trade allies.

The main criticisms of the TPP from activists include the clause that allows pharmaceuticals to maintain a monopoly of certain medicines. Critics also say the agreement limits the sovereignty of states to protect the environment, worker’s rights and public health.

Some members of the U.S. Congress are against Vietnam being part of the TPP, and have criticized what they say is a lack of freedoms for Vietnam’s citizens.

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On his trip to Japan President Obama will travel to Hiroshima, the first time a U.S. president will visit the city where the atomic bombing took place in 1945 at the end of World War II.

The White House said the reason for the visit is not to apologize to Japan or revising the country’s decision to use the atomic bomb. Instead, he will talk about the need to eliminate the risk of nuclear weapons. He will also attend the G-7 meeting in the city of Sendai.

This will be Obama’s first visit to Vietnam, where he will meet political leaders and businessmen in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. According to the White House, Obama is expected to lift the decades-long arms embargo that the U.S. has kept with the nation.

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