Vietnam president appears in public for first time in more than a month

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang and his wife Nguyen Thi Hien walk down the stairs at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang appeared in public for the first time in more than a month on Monday, ending an absence from the political scene that triggered online speculation about his health and position.

The Communist Party leadership is notoriously opaque and changes this year have included the unprecedented sacking of a politburo member and a vice-minister in a corruption crackdown.

The government website showed pictures of Quang at his office welcoming Cuban ambassador Herminio Lopez Diaz. Quang had been absent from the public eye since July 25, when he met the secretary of Russia’s security council, Nikolai Patrushev.

Earlier this month, state media published an article by Quang calling for tougher internet controls, but the fact that there was no picture further fueled speculation about his position.

Conservatives with close ties to the security establishment gained greater sway in the Communist Party early last year. Since then Vietnam has launched major crackdowns on corruption and dissidents.

Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Nick Macfie