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US: Vietnam backsliding on human rights

Thursday - 3/21/2013, 2:19pm  ET

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration says Vietnam is "backsliding" on human rights, particularly in its prosecution of bloggers.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer told a congressional panel Thursday that the country's authoritarian government is rightly proud of expanding Internet use, but it has diminished the value by curbing free exchange of ideas.

The administration also said it will proceed with its annual U.S.-Vietnam human rights dialogue. It was due in late 2012, but postponed because the 2011 edition yielded little.

Vietnam made a concession last month when it released a U.S.-trained human rights lawyer, which had long been sought by Washington.

That progress, however, has been overshadowed by recent convictions of dozens of other activists.

Officials tell The Associated Press that the dialogue will be held in Hanoi in mid-April.

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