America Wants Expanded Ties With Vietnam

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The New York Sun

HANOI, Vietnam – Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday that America wants to expand its military relationship with Vietnam, but has no plans to seek access to military facilities in this former enemy nation.

Arriving in Hanoi just days after America signed a trade agreement with Vietnam, Mr. Rumsfeld planned to meet with the American military team involved in finding and identifying the remains of hundreds of American servicemen still missing in action from the Vietnam war.

En route to Hanoi, Mr. Rumsfeld talked only generally about his goals for the American military relationship with a country that has come to symbolize one of the military’s most divisive and politically explosive wars.

“I don’t have a wish list and I don’t have a set of things we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “What we want to see is a relationship between our country and Vietnam evolve in a way that is comfortable to them and comfortable to us. And it has been doing that over recent years and I suspect it will continue on that path.”

On the trade deal with America, which removes one of the last major hurdles in Hanoi’s bid to join the World Trade Organization, Mr. Rumsfeld said he’s been impressed with the Vietnam people and their economy.

“They’ve got a very good growth rate. They have a sizable population and they’re industrious. And I think it would be a good thing to be in the WTO,” he said.

Congress would have to vote before the August recess to grant permanent normal trade relations to Vietnam in order for the WTO membership to move forward. This is Mr. Rumsfeld’s first trip to Vietnam as defense secretary.

The New York Sun

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