Hundreds of protesters demonstrated near a resort where the president of Vietnam was scheduled to have an evening reception with business leaders.
Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet was expected in Southern California Friday evening following a meeting earlier in the day with President George W. Bush in Washington. Triet was the first president from the communist-led nation to visit the White House since the Vietnam War.
Orange County, where the resort is located, is home to a huge population of Vietnamese who resettled after the war.
Most of the demonstrators lining Pacific Coast Highway near the St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, were of Vietnamese descent and they waved American flags and the red-striped yellow flag of the former South Vietnam. County sheriff's deputies on horseback watched the crowd.
"V.C. go home," some yelled, referring to the Viet Cong guerrillas who fought U.S.-backed South Vietnam during the war.
Many wore T-shirts with a photograph of a jailed Vietnamese priest and the slogan, "Freedom of speech in Vietnam?" Some also brought pictures of other religious and political figures who have been arrested or put under house arrest in Vietnam.
Demonstrator Minh Vo, 55, said she was a nurse during the Vietnam War and treated many American and South Vietnamese soldiers. Hanging around her neck were pictures of Buddhist monks she said had been arrested.
"If they claim they allow freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Vietnam, then show it. Release these political prisoners," she said.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year