Tags: Clinton | Optimistic | Vietnamese | Relations

Clinton Optimistic on Vietnamese Relations

Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM

Wrapping up a three-day visit to Vietnam, Clinton spoke with CNN in Ho Chi Minh City near the Saigon River. He is the first American president in 31 years to visit Vietnam.

"I hope it means for the people in Vietnam continued hope and continued prosperity. This country has made a lot of progress in the last few years. The economy is becoming more open to the rest of the world," Clinton said.

The question that remains, Clinton said, is whether the trend toward freedom is irreversible as Vietnamese government seeks trade relations with the United States.

"I believe if we implement this trade agreement, the rule of law will become more important, openness will become more important, there will be more access to the Internet and information of all kind and so there will be more freedom. The question then becomes when does it become political freedom or will the political system try and restrict them more?" Clinton said.

It has been 25 years since the U.S. evacuated its embassy in Saigon – now called Ho Chi Minh City – as communist forces defeated the South Vietnamese in 1975, two years after most U.S. troops were pulled out. That ended 30 years of war in Vietnam and 14 years of U.S. involvement in the fight against communist North Vietnam.

In an emotional visit Saturday to a site near Hanoi where a fighter plane is believed to have crashed in November 1967, Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, along with the pilot's family, watched Vietnamese workers search for the remains.

The approximately 300 sets of remains of U.S. servicemen listed as missing in action and recovered during his presidency was possible because of the cooperation of Vietnamese officials, Clinton said. Vietnam veterans – including many who have served as members of Congress – played an integral role in the initiative to recover MIAs, he said.

"There are 1,000 cases still unresolved. I brought over 350,000 pages of documents and have another million pages of documents we can give them so they can do their own resolution to these cases," Clinton said.

Turning to other international topics, Clinton expressed his desire to see the dialogue continue to heal the decades-long rift between North Korea and South Korea. Earlier this month, three days of talks were held between the United States and North Korea to curb the communist country's missile program.

At the same time Clinton believes that the Israelis and Palestinians will not be able to make progress to peace unless there is a dramatic reduction in the level of violence. He characterized the Middle East countries as being "not that far apart" in their negotiations but "may as well be on the other side of the globe."

And on the still unresolved presidential election in the United States that will determine who will succeed him in January, Clinton said the political system should be allowed to work:

"This is not a crisis. This will come to an end in plenty of time for a new president to come to office."

(C) 2000 UPI. All Rights Reserved.

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Wrapping up a three-day visit to Vietnam, Clinton spoke with CNN in Ho Chi Minh City near the Saigon River. He is the first American president in 31 years to visit Vietnam. I hope it means for the people in Vietnam continued hope and continued prosperity. This country...
Clinton,Optimistic,Vietnamese,Relations
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2000-00-19
Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM
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