Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien on Vietnam-US relations

Ha Noi, Nov. 8 (VNA) -- Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien has granted an interview to Viet Nam News Agency on the development of Viet Nam-U.S. relations.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question: Could you please tell us how you evaluate the developments in Viet Nam-U.S. relations over the recent past?

Answer: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the U.S. in 1995, the relations between the two countries have made inspiring progress in many fields.

Mention should be made first of all of the dialogues at high level and between ministries and branches. The U.S. Secretary of State has made three visits to Viet Nam. The Vietnamese Foreign Minister has made two official visits to the U.S. The first dialogue between the two foreign ministries in July 1999 opened up a new mechanism contributing to enhancing mutual understanding. The U.S. Secretary of Defense has also visited Viet Nam. Most recently, President Tran Duc Luong had an official meeting with President W.J. Clinton in New York while attending the Millennium summit conference.

After establishing their diplomatic relations the two sides have considered promoting their economic-commercial relations as the focal point of their relationship and have obtained positive results. The two sides have signed such agreements as the agreement on the establishment of copyright relations and the agreement on the operation of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), thus creating a legal basis for the beginning of activities in the fields concerned. Bilateral trade has reached about USD 900 million a year. We have exported to the U.S. mainly footwear, coffee, tea, seasonings, sea produce and fuel. In direct investment, up to March 2000 the U.S. had 118 projects licensed with a total registered investment capital of over USD 1.4 billion. Currently, the U.S. is ranked 9th on the list of foreign countries and territories investing in Viet Nam with 97 projects in operation, employing about 3,000 workhands. The trade agreement signed in July 2000 was the result of continuous efforts by both sides over four years of negotiations and an important milestone in the process of normalisation of bilateral relations, especially in the economic-commercial domain. However, these economic-commercial relations still remain modest, not commensurate with the potential and conditions of both countries.

Bilateral cooperation in education-training and cultural exchange has also been conducted. We have created conditions for U.S. researchers, experts and students to come to Viet Nam to study and exchange experiences with their Vietnamese colleagues. Many Vietnamese students, officials and researchers have also been sent on study and training tours to the U.S.

In 1987 both sides agreed to settle their humanitarian issues. The U.S. has time and again acknowledged and highly appreciated Viet Nam's efficient cooperation in the MIA's issue, and the U.S. side has also made initial efforts to cooperate with Viet Nam in a number of humanitarian programmes. At present, Vietnamese scientists are cooperating with scientists in other countries, including scientists in the U.S., in studying the effect of Agent Orange. Due to the extremely serious consequences of war in Viet Nam, the country has a very great demand for humanitarian assistance and needs a more positive and urgent response from the U.S., apart from its own great efforts and contributions from a number of other countries.

These inspiring developments in Viet Nam-U.S. relations are the results of our foreign policy which stands for independence, sovereignty, diversification and multi-lateralization, and which shows Viet Nam's readiness to befriend other countries in the international community, striving for peace, independence and development.

Question: Public opinions in Viet Nam and other countries are very interested in the coming Viet Nam visit by U.S. President W.J. Clinton. Could you please speak about the significance and impact of the visit on Viet Nam-U.S. relations?

Answer: The Viet Nam-U.S. relationship is the relationship between two sovereign nations which has been established on the basis of mutual respect for each other's independence and sovereignty, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutal benefits. As I have said above, after five years of normalisation, the relations between the two countries have obtained certain developments. In this process, President W.J. Clinton has made important contributions. We welcome those contributions of the President. But it is undeniable that there was an unfortunate chapter between Viet Nam and the U.S. in the past. This is history which nobody can change. We are in favour of continuing to cooperate, enhance mutual understanding and better Viet Nam-U.S. relations. This is exactly how to settle the consequences left from the past in order to look forward to the future.

The U.S. President's visit will be an opportunity for both sides to discuss issues in their bilateral relations and international issues of mutual concern and to better mutual understanding. It will also help President W.J. Clinton and his entourage including secretaries, congressmen, journalists and business people better understand beautiful Viet Nam and its culture and the peaceful, altruistic and lenient nature of the Vietnamese people. It will also be an opportunity for business people of the two countries to meet one another and create conditions for pushing their bilateral economic-commercial relations for mutual benefits. In this spirit, the first visit by a U.S. President to Viet Nam will contribute to further promoting the relations between the two countries for their mutual benefits, thus contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world, and in conformity with the aspiration of the people of both countries.

Question: Could you please speak of President W.J. Clinton's agenda in Viet Nam?

At the invitation of President Tran Duc Luong, U.S. President W.J. Clinton will pay an official visit to Viet Nam right after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit meeting in Brunei from Nov. 15-16, 2000.

President Tran Duc Luong will welcome and hold talks with President Clinton. President Clinton will also meet with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Central Committee Le Kha Phieu, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, Vietnamese business people and U.S. business people in Viet Nam, have a talk with university students, and make a tour of scenic spots and historic relic sites in Viet Nam.--