US President Barack Obama has held historic talks at the White House with Vietnam’s Communist Party leader, Nguyen Phu Trong. It was the first such meeting since the two countries normalised relations 20 years ago. Mr Obama said that despite differing political philosophies, the two countries were deepening co-operation. “Obviously, there has been a difficult history between our two countries in the 20th Century and there continues to be significant differences in political philosophy and political systems,” Mr Obama said. “What we have seen is an emergence of a constructive relationship that is based on mutual respect and that has benefited the people of both countries.” Mr Trong described the talks as “cordial, constructive, positive and frank.” “What is of utmost importance is that we have been transformed from former enemies to become friends and comprehensive partners,” he said. “I am convinced our relationship will continue to grow in the future,” he said. He said he had invited Mr Obama to visit Vietnam and the president had accepted. However, Tuesday’s meeting was not welcomed by everyone. Outside the White House, demonstrators protested against human rights violations in Vietnam, while a group of US lawmakers wrote an open letter to Mr Obama complaining about the invitation.