Activities of President Clinton and entourage in Hanoi

Ha Noi, Nov. 18 (VNA)-- U.S. President W. J. Clinton and his wife and daughter this morning, Nov. 18, visited an excavation site of the joint task force on missing soldiers in Tien Chau village, Me Linh district, Vinh Phuc province.

The U.S. President was accompanied by Senator John Kerry and two sons of Lt. Colonel Lawrence G. Evert, who was shot down at the site in 1967.

President W. J. Clinton said at the event "I want to personally thank the people of the village, district and province for your kindness, for coming forward with artefacts and information useful to the search, and for working so hard alongside our service members and citizens."

He also expressed "the profound thanks of the American people to the Vietnamese Government for its support," and said "the United States is doing what we can to repay the cooperation of the Vietnamese and their government, by doing all we can to help the people of Viet Nam find answers about their missing as well."

He said he was committed to building a future of friendship and cooperation.

This afternoon, his wife Hillary Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton visited the Viet Nam History Museum and attended a get-together with a group of Vietnamese women, convened by the Viet Nam Women's Union and the National Committee for the Advancement of Vietnamese Women.

She said she hoped she would be able to accelerate cooperation and improve mutual understanding and sympathy between Vietnamese and American women in the future, in an effort to constantly develop the bilateral relationship.

The day before, on Nov. 17, she and her daughter visited Yen Tang hamlet, Bac Phu commune, Soc Son district, on the outskirts of Ha Noi, where poor women have been receiving funds from the Viet Nam Women's Union (VWU) and OXFAM-USA to develop cottage industries such as pig-raising and tofu-making.

They called in at the homes of two beneficiaries in Phu Tang and Yen Tang hamlets.

On this occasion, VWU Chairwoman Truong Thi Khue awarded Hillary Clinton and her daughter the Union's badge.

On Nov. 18, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Manh Cam received Charlene Barshefsky, U.S. Trade Representative, who accompanied President Clinton on his current visit to Viet Nam, at the Government Office.

The Deputy Prime Minister highly valued the guest's contributions to the signing of the Viet Nam-U.S. Trade Agreement.

For her part, Barshefsky briefed her host of progress made by the two countries' commerce agencies in a process to establish a joint committee, as well as in ecomomic forums where measures are being prepared for implementing the bilateral trade agreement once it is ratified by the Vietnamese National Assembly and the US Congress.

Also this morning, Barshefsky and another member of the President Cliton's delegation, Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta, had a working session with Minister of Trade Vu Khoan. The two parties discussed measures to establish a joint committee for implementing the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) as well as U.S. technical assistance to Viet Nam in implementing the BTA and joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). They also informed each other of measures to be taken to fulfil their leaders' commitment to establishing a bilateral economic forum as soon as possible.

In the afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Manh Cam received the U.S. congressmen from President Clinton's delegation.

Deputy Prime Minister Cam recognized the U.S. congressmen's active contributions to the normalization of the two countries' relations, and highly valued the exchange of parliamentary delegations between the two countries, thus accelerating mutual understanding and laying foundations for bilateral and multi-faceted cooperation.

Also this afternoon, Sen. Lt. Gen. Tran Van Quang, Chairman of the Viet Nam Veterans' Association, received a group of U.S. veterans led by Hershel Gober, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Robert Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs. Sen. Lt. Gen. Quang warmly welcomed the U.S. veterans's participation in President Clinton's visit to Viet Nam, describing it as a contribution to building Viet Nam-U.S. relations on principles of respect for each nation's independence and sovereignty.

The host highlighted the fine development of relations between the war veterans' associations of the two countries, which have, he said, helped boost mutual understanding and cooperation especially in POW-MIA issues. He expressed thanks to the United States for its information on Vietnamese servicemen listed as missing in action. He said he hoped the two countries would continue cooperation on MIA issues, demining and other humanitarian issues like Agent Orange.--VNA