(Bloomberg) -- The US is dispatching a top diplomat to Vietnam on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Southeast Asian country, which gave the Russian leader a 21-gun salute and vowed closer ties.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink is visiting Hanoi Friday and Saturday for meetings with senior government officials “to underscore the strong US commitment to implementing the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” according to a statement on the State Department’s website. Kritenbrink will “reaffirm the United States’ support for a strong, independent, resilient, and prosperous Vietnam,” it said.

The US criticized Vietnam’s decision to host Putin, who was given the red-carpet treatment after visiting North Korea, where Kim Jong Un pledged to “unconditionally support” Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

In Vietnam, Putin said Russia can help in the construction of gas-liquefaction capacity in the country as well as deliver its own LNG to the nation. The two countries vowed to expand investment ties in energy and increase defense and security cooperation.

Defense and security cooperation plays a “special role” in the relationship between the two countries, according to a joint statement. Vietnam has long been a major buyer of Russian military weapons. 

Vietnam and Russia will “soon roll out” major infrastructure, railway, in-city railroads and renewable energy projects in Vietnam, according to a statement on the Vietnam government’s website, citing a meeting between Putin and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. The two governments will create “favorable conditions for businesses to expand investment and do business effectively in each other’s lands,” it said.

The US and Vietnam in September upgraded ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, Vietnam’s highest diplomatic relationship level.

--With assistance from Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen and Nguyen Xuan Quynh.

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