Overview of the discussion (Source: VOV)

Washington DC (VNA)
– Vietnamese and US officials have exchanged information on religious affairs during a round-table discussion held in Washington DC as part of the visit of a delegation from the Vietnamese Government Committee for Religious Affairs to the US from September 11-13.

The discussion, attended by Bui Thanh Ha, deputy head of the committee, David Saperstein, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Victoria Thoman from the Office of International Religious Freedom at the US Department of State, also aimed to promote mutual understanding between the two countries in the field.

Ha noted that the Vietnam-US relationship is growing strongly in various fields, being marked by the US visit of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in July, 2015 and a visit to Vietnam by US President Barack Obama in May, 2016.

Over the past years, the two sides have paid much attention to the strengthening of cooperation in religious affairs and human rights, he said.

Vietnam has 24 million followers of 14 religions or 27 percent of total population, noted Ha.

He highlighted the consistent stance of considering religions and beliefs a spiritual legitimate need of a large number of people, and religious people a part of the national unity bloc.

Ha affirmed that the material and spiritual life of religious people in Vietnam has been improved, while social activities of religious organisations have contributed to the maintenance of political stability supporting the national socio-economic development.

One of issues drawing US officials’ interest was the making of the draft Law on Religions and Beliefs.

According to Ha, the building of the bill was commenced in October 2014 and is scheduled to be approved in October 2016.

The bill consists of various new contents, including the expansion of subjects eligible for religious and belief freedom rights that reflects the nature of the rights as part of human rights as stated in the Constitution.-VNA