By Thanh Nien Daily The Vietnamese embassy in the US has lashed out at a US commission’s recommendation to reinstate Vietnam on Washington’s “blacklist” of countries violating religious freedoms. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Wednesday proposed that the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, re-designate Vietnam as a CPC (country of particular concern) in 2007, citing “continued severe religious freedom restrictions”. In an interview with Bloomberg News the same day, the Vietnamese Embassy spokesman called the USCIRF recommendation “utterly groundless” and “completely out of place within the context of the current situation in Vietnam and the increasingly positive relations enjoyed by Vietnam and the US.” He said the right to freedom of belief and religion is protected by law in Vietnam. He pointed to the fact that more than 20 million Vietnamese practice different religions without external pressures being placed upon them and that the vast majority of the country believe in the worship of their ancestors. Vietnam is currently home to over 60,000 religious dignitaries from a myriad of religions and 30,000 places of worship. The spokesman lamented the Commission’s decision saying that Vietnam had held a series of frank and open dialogues with the US on issues concerning freedom of belief and religion to enable the later to gain a greater understanding of the reality of the situation inside the country. Vietnam was taken off the US State Department’s list of countries of particular concern in November 2006 on the eve of a visit to Hanoi by President George W. Bush.