Currently on his visit to four Southern Asian countries, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo updated his itinerary by adding Vietnam to the list. Such a sudden modification to his schedule implies that there is some flexibility in newly including a few destinations. However, once again, he did not choose to visit South Korea.
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday (local time) released a public schedule saying, “Secretary Pompeo is on travel to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, and Vietnam from October 25-30, 2020.” Vietnam was new to the list. It is a rare occasion for the state secretary, who is currently on a trip, to made updates to the list of his stops.
Secretary Pompeo made a visit to Hanoi at the invitation of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Washington and Hanoi, according to Vietnamese news reports. U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus stated that the addition of Vietnam to the secretary's itinerary is intended to reaffirm the two nations’ collective pledge to enhance comprehensive partnership and promote regional peace and prosperity.
The announcement of Secretary Pompeo's surprise trip to Vietnam came right after Vietnamese-American Michael Nguyen was released last week to return to his family in California after he last year was sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the nation while engaging in antigovernment activities, according to Reuters.
It is not new for South Korea to be excluded from Secretary Pompeo's list of visiting countries. Earlier this month, he skipped a stop in Seoul on his travel to Tokyo on the grounds that U.S. President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary Pompeo agreed over the phone to meet in Washington, DC as soon as possible.