Look who came to dinner

President Barack Obama taped the second part of an interview with CNN celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain before leaving the Vietnamese capital for his next stop: Ho Chi Minh city.

Bourdain's Part Unknown food travelogue is one of the network's most popular non-fiction series.

Obama and Bourdain met in a small complex in Hanoi's Me Tri neighbourhood in a heavy downpour.

The two met over a restaurant dinner to discuss Obama's trip to Asia and his interest in the people, food and culture of Vietnam, CNN said.

CNN has aired Bourdain's show since 2013. He travels to a different part of the world for each episode to explore that area's culture, primarily by sharing in the area's distinct native cuisine.

The interview with Obama will be featured in the eighth season of Parts Unknown, which begins in September.

Meanwhile, Obama said that several Vietnamese civil society members were prevented from meeting him yesterday and that, despite great strides made by the country, Washington had concerns about the limits it puts on political freedom.

Obama was due to lay out more of his plan for stronger ties with Vietnam on the second day of his visit, after scrapping an arms ban, the last big hurdle between two countries drawn together by concern over China's military buildup.

The removal of the arms embargo, a vestige of the Vietnam War, suggests US worries about Beijing's building of man-made islands in the South China Sea and deployment of advanced radars and missile batteries in the disputed region trumped concern about Vietnam's human rights record.

- Reuters, AP

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