Obama promotes freedom of expression with young Vietnamese

US President Barack Obama promoted freedom of expression during an arranged meeting with young people in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.

"You've got to let people express themselves," he told a female rapper who asked whether governments should play a role in promoting arts.

"That's part of what a modern 21st-century culture is all about."

The comments were among Obama's most direct, and personal, on the subject of human rights during his three-day visit to Vietnam.

"Governments sometimes get nervous about art," Obama said. "But if you try to suppress the arts, then I think you're suppressing the deepest dreams and aspirations of a people."

Around 800 people attended Wednesday's event, most from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, a US programme launched by Obama in 2013 on leadership exchanges for 18-to-35-year-olds.

The event was held in Vietnam's vibrant southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25


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