Viet Nam committed to new ties with US, says FM

Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien gave an interview to Radio Voice of Vietnam on Nov. 24,2000


Could you please make some assessments on the recent visit to Viet Nam by the U.S. President and its results.

Answer: At the invitation of State President Tran Duc Luong, U.S President W.J.Clinton paid an official visit to Viet Nam from 16th to 19th September 2000. He was accompanied by his spouse Hillary Clinton, New York Senator, their daughter Chelsea, a number of secretaries, Senators, Congressmen and many high-ranking officials. He was given a reception like other state leaders who paid official visits to our country. The visit attracted great media attention. 360 foreign correspondents representing over 100 news agencies from more than 20 countries in the world, including some 200 from the United States came to Viet Nam to cover the visit. On this occasion, the U.S-Viet Nam Trade Council, the US-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce also organized a visit to Viet Nam for a group of more than 50 US major businesses.

During talks and meetings, our Party and State leaders made clear in a straightforward manner viewpoints of our Party and State with regard to our domestic and external policies, informed the U.S side of our country's socio-economic achievements in the doi moi process over the past 14 years, our foreign policy of independence, self-resilience, diversification and multilateralization of international relations; expounded the causes and nature of our people's just resistance war; reaffirmed Vietnam's plans to build a socialist-oriented multi-sectoral economy for the goals of wealthy people, economically strong country, equitable, democratic and advanced society; reaffirmed that Viet Nam was committed to building new co-operative relations with the United States on the basis of respect for independence, sovereignty, non-interference into each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefits, considering them as fundamental principles for continued improvement and development of relations and settlement of issues left behind by the past; at the same time reiterated that the US needs to acknowledge its responsibility for the tremendous losses suffered by the Vietnamese people during the war as well as for healing war wounds; proposed that the two countries actively expand bilateral economic, trade and investment co-operation. In the immediate future, the US is requested to ratify as early as possible the Bilateral Trade Agreement and extend technical assistance to Vietnam to implement this Agreement, lift the Jackson Vanik Amendment and grant permanent normal trading status as well as the generalised system of preferences (GSP) to Viet Nam, improve co-operation in such fields as agriculture, fishery, human resources development, science and technology and continue to support projects in poverty alleviation, natural disaster relief, HIV/AIDS prevention and fighting. We reiterated our consistent position that the search for American servicemen listed as missing in action was a purely humanitarian issue and we are prepared to continue co-operating with the US on this issue and requested the US to cooperate with Viet Nam in finding remains of Vietnamese soldiers missing in the war.

Although it was a short visit, the US President, his spouse and members of his delegation had chance to meet with various sections of the Vietnamese population, including women, children and students. It was through those meetings that the U.S President, his spouse and delegation members had a better understanding of Viet Nam, its glorious history, unique and time-honoured culture. The American guests were also impressed by the Vietnamese people's hospitality, generosity and good nature.

The visit marked a new significant step in the process of improvement of relations between the two countries. Strengthened bilateral relations in commensuration with our potentials, first and foremost in trade, economic, scientific and technological fields, serve the interests and aspirations of the two peoples.

Question: Mr. Minister, on the American side, how does President Clinton feel about the visit?

Answer: For his part, President Clinton thanked us for the hospitality extended to him and his family as well as members of his delegation. The US President expressed pleasure at and appreciated development in the bilateral relations over the last eight years. He was of the opinion that this improvement has created the foundation for the relations between the two countries in the future. He also thanked Viet Nam for its effective co-operation in the MIA issue. He reaffirmed US support for Viet Nam's economic development and its efforts to gain admission to the WTO. On the Bilateral Trade Agreement, the US President was of the view that the Agreement would pave the way for Vietnamese businesses to access the American market which would help expand trade, and contribute to Viet Nam's economic development. He pledged to provide Viet Nam with a $2 million grant a year to assist in the implementation of the Agreement over the next three years. On investment, he held that the American business delegation accompanying him had found many business opportunities in Viet Nam and wished to promote their investment here. He also said that the majority of Vietnamese living in the United States supported his visit and the fine development in bilateral relations.

Question: On the settlement of war consequences, what has the United States done for us?

Answer: President Clinton has handed over to US 360,000 pages of documents that can help the search for Vietnamese soldiers missing in action and promised to give another one million pages. He reaffirmed the United States's responsibility to continue its assistance to Viet Nam in demining activities. On resolving Agent Orange consequences, he expressed his sympathy for the victims and promised to provide Viet Nam with information relating to locations where the US forces had stored defoliant. He underlined the importance of scientific cooperation between the two countries in studying effects of Agent Orange on human health and the environment.