Vietnam's president Truong Tan Sang has defended his government's human rights record on a rare visit to the US, ahead of talks with President Barack Obama on Thursday.
Speaking before meeting his US counterpart, Mr Sang said his government had been making "sustained efforts to promote human rights" as part of Vietnam's reform process.
Dr Satu Limaye, East-West Center director and one of many business leaders to welcome Mr Sang, has told Radio Australia's human rights is not a "hidden issue" between the US and Vietnam.
"The human rights concerns are well expressed in congress and by the administration," he said.
"Certainly members of congress and various observers and analysts at leading think-tanks have spoken candidly about the need for better human rights protections in Vietnam."
However, Mr Limaye says this must be seen in the context of the overall relationship.
"Vietnam occupies a critical place in the geostrategy of an evolving Asia, it's a negotiating partner for a Trans-Pacific Partnership on economic and trade issues," he said.
"Human rights will clearly come up in the bilateral discussions but I don't think we would be well advised to hang the relationship on one issue."
Mr Sang is the second Vietnamese head of state to visit the White House since the countries normalised ties.
"One of the reasons to invite the president is he hasn't been here since 2007, almost half a decade since a senior Vietnamese leader has come here," Mr Limaye said.
"It's important to have this conversation (and it's) an opportunity for people on the hill and elsewhere to hear the president of Vietnam on these issues."
US lawmakers and activist groups have demanded the United States press Mr Sang on the issue of human rights.
They have accused Mr Obama of sending mixed signals by welcoming the Vietnamese leader at a time when US officials say Vietnam has stepped up repression of dissent.
US State Department officials testified to Congress last month that Vietnam was holding more than 120 political prisoners and increasing restrictions in several areas, notably cracking down on internet freedom.