President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he would travel to Vietnam soon — a visit that will be seen as bolstering U.S. influence in the region in a bid to counter China.
The White House had not announced a trip. Biden’s comments were included in a pool report about his remarks at a fundraiser in New Mexico.
Biden had said at a July 29 campaign reception in Freeport, Maine, that Vietnam’s leader wanted to meet him.
“I’ve gotten a call from the head of Vietnam, desperately wants to meet me when I go to the G20,” Biden said at the July event, according to a White House transcript. “He wants to elevate us to a major partner, along with Russia and China. What do you think that’s about? No, I’m not joking.”
Biden is attending the G20 summit in New Delhi next month. His most recent foreign trip was in Europe last month, when he visited Britain, Lithuania and Finland.
Biden has made bolstering relations in Southeast Asia a priority as part of a bid to counter the influence of China and Russia.
In March, Biden spoke by phone with General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the top leader of Vietnam. The White House described the discussion as focusing on “expanding the bilateral relationship, while working together to address regional challenges such as climate change, ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the deteriorating environmental and security situation along the Mekong.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com