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U.S. Department of State
95/08/06 Address: US-Vietnam Relations
Office of the Spokesman



                           U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           Office of the Spokesman

                              (Hanoi, Vietnam)

_____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                 August 6, 1995
As Prepared for Delivery

             ADDRESS BY SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                           TO THE YOUTH OF VIETNAM:

                 "U.S.-VIETNAM RELATIONS:  A NEW CHAPTER"

                   Institute for International Relations
                               Hanoi, Vietnam
                               August 6, 1995

	Thank you, Director-General Ngoc, for that kind introduction. It 
is a pleasure to be here with Vice Minister Le Mai and other 
distinguished guests.  I am grateful to the Institute for International 
Relations for helping to organize this event.  The staff and students of 
the Institute are playing an important part in charting a broader role 
for Vietnam as it continues to integrate itself into Asia and the world.

	I have come to Vietnam on behalf of President Clinton and the 
American people to begin a new chapter in the relationship between our 
nations.  And I have come here this afternoon to speak directly to the 
people of Vietnam about the future that I hope we can share.

	I am especially pleased to be able to address an audience that 
includes so many students. One of the startling facts about Vietnam is 
that three-fifths of your countrymen and women are under 25 years of 
age.  Vietnam is an old country, but a young nation.  Its future, and 
its evolving place in the community of nations, are yours to shape. 

	This is the first generation of Vietnamese students in many 
decades to enter adulthood informed by the memory of war, but inspired 
by the promise of peace.  This is what I know you call the "peace 
generation" -- the first that can devote all its energies to renovation 
at home, and to cooperation with your neighbors and the world.  Without 
forgetting the past, or abandoning tradition, you have a chance to help 
your country move forward with greater freedom and prosperity.

	The ties between the United States and Vietnam reach back further 
than you might think:  In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, a champion of liberty, 
as well as a man of science, tried to obtain rice seed from Vietnam for 
his farm in Virginia.  Fifteen years later, when Jefferson was 
President, the first American merchant ship sailed into a Vietnamese 
port.  Almost 150 years later Jefferson's words that "all men are 
created equal" were echoed in Vietnam's own declaration of independence.

	Because of the war American troops fought on your soil, I have no 
doubt that American history books will always include a chapter on 
Vietnam -- just as Vietnamese history books will surely include a 
chapter on America.  Today our peoples are still scarred by the war.  
But let us remember that history is a work in progress.  That bitter 
past has also planted the seeds for a better future.

	More than three million Americans served in Vietnam.  Even amidst 
the death and destruction of war, many came to appreciate the culture of 
your people and the beauty of this land.

	We have other bonds as well.  The one million people of Vietnamese 
origin who now live in the United States can also be a bridge for 
reconciliation and cooperation between our two countries.  Just south of 
my home city of Los Angeles, there is a place called "Little Saigon," 
where Buddhist temples and neighborhood groceries selling rau muong 
coexist with the freeways and shopping malls of southern California.  
And when I look out my window from the State Department in Washington, I 
can see Arlington, Virginia -- a historic old American community and 
also a vibrant new center of Vietnamese culture and commerce.  Indeed, 
the United States has been enriched by our Vietnamese-Americans, one of 
the most successful immigrant groups in our recent history.

	Yet apart from visits by returning veterans and family members, 
there has been little direct contact between our two countries over the 
last twenty years.  I know these have been difficult years for Vietnam -
- years of economic hardship and until recently, years of conflict.  But 
we have now reached a time of promise and of change.  We still have 
history to make, a new chapter to write in the history we share.

	A month ago, President Clinton decided the time had come to 
normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam.  
He was supported in this decision by a majority of the American people, 
and by an important group of American veterans who had served here 
during the war and who now serve in the United States Congress.  The 
President believes, as do they, that closer ties are in the interest of 
both our nations.  The diplomatic relations we initiated yesterday will 
help us to account fully for those who sacrificed in the past, and will 
also allow our countries to work together on behalf of regional 
prosperity and security.

	Our most important priority in restoring ties with Vietnam is to 
determine the fate of each American who did not return from the war.  
Each soldier who was lost remains cherished, with a name, a family, and 
a nation that cares.  There should be the fullest possible accounting 
for each one.  That is a solemn pledge my government has made to the 
American people.  Fulfilling it remains the key to a closer relationship 
between our two countries.

	I want to thank the Vietnamese officials, veterans, and citizens 
who have helped us find answers, by sharing their memories of the war 
and by leading us to crash sites and burial grounds.  They have come 
forward time and again to help Americans ease our sense of loss.  I know 
that the people of Vietnam have endured great losses as well.  That is 
why the United States has released thousands of documents to help 
Vietnamese authorities search for those of your countrymen who are still 
missing in action.  That is why we have funded humanitarian projects for 
war victims.  

	Of course, we cannot heal every wound or settle every debate from 
the past.  We will leave that to students of history, and to future 
generations.  This moment belongs to the families looking for answers 
about lost loved ones, and to the Vietnamese villagers who have given 
them a helping hand.  It belongs to the American veterans who have 
returned to this country to provide prosthetics to victims of the war, 
and to the Vietnamese veterans who welcome them as friends.  It belongs 
to the entrepreneurs who are rebuilding this country, now that it is 
finally at peace.  It belongs to the students who question old 
assumptions and embrace new ways of thinking.  As the great Vietnamese 
poet and statesman Nguyen Trai put it five hundred years ago:  "After so 
many years of war, only life remains."

	After so many years of war and turmoil, Vietnam is turning its 
face to a changed world.  Colonial empires have vanished and the age of 
independence struggles is over.  In the last two decades, 45 more 
sovereign countries have emerged.  But it is not only new nations that 
have been born and maps that have been redrawn.  A powerful revolution 
of ideas has swept the world.  Indeed, the main story of the late 
twentieth century is the ascendancy of open societies and open markets 
in country after country, lifting the lives of hundreds of millions of 
people.

	Today in the Western Hemisphere, for example, every nation but one 
has a freely elected government and a market economy.  After decades of 
struggle, South Africa is now a multiracial democracy.  The former 
Soviet Union has been transformed.  In Europe, the fastest growing 
economies are those Eastern nations that moved most decisively toward 
economic and political reform.

	Communications technology is pushing the expansion of freedom for 
the individual at the same time as it is shrinking the distances between 
nations.  My speech to you, for example, will be broadcast back to the 
United States by satellite.  Through the Internet, it will be available 
to almost anyone in the world with a computer and a phone line.  
Governments cannot control this movement of ideas in the Information 
Age, even if they want to. 

	Consider how much Southeast Asia has changed as well.  New 
civilian governments have been freely elected in Thailand, Cambodia, and 
the Philippines.  Nations like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are ten 
to twenty times wealthier today than they were in 1965.  My visit this 
past week to Kuala Lumpur underscored for me the enormous scale and 
dynamism of the region's transformation. 

	Because of these remarkable changes, America's relationship with 
the nations of Southeast Asia has been transformed as well.  Twenty-five 
years ago, the largest American communities in the region revolved 
around military bases.  The United States has vital military alliances 
and a substantial military presence in the region that are widely 
welcomed.  Our security presence will continue to provide the stability 
and reassurance necessary for sustained economic growth.  But today, 
American communities in the region also revolve around Chambers of 
Commerce and universities.  The most common interaction across the 
Pacific takes place today among private citizens -- among business 
people, scholars, and tourists.  I believe that these currents of 
culture and commerce are bringing us closer to a new Pacific community 
stretching from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur.

	Vietnam is now moving into the mainstream of Southeast Asia.  Last 
year, your country became a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, 
the region's first multinational dialogue on security issues.  This 
year, it has joined ASEAN itself.  As its economy opens further, and its 
laws governing trade and investment develop, Vietnam will be in a 
position to join its Southeast Asian neighbors in the Asia Pacific 
Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organization.  We want 
Vietnam to enjoy the benefits, and to assume the obligations, that go 
with belonging to these international institutions.

	With the Cold War over, we view Vietnam as the product of its own 
history and the master of its own destiny.  As many of your countrymen 
and ours have urged, we look on Vietnam "as a country, not a war."  We 
view it as a nation with immense potential as a partner in trade and 
diplomacy.

	The process of establishing normal economic ties with the United 
States will take time.  But we are prepared to move forward.  We will do 
so in consultation with Congress and consistent with our laws.  The 
first step in expanding our commercial relations is to negotiate a 
bilateral trade agreement that will provide for Most Favored Nation 
trading status.  Our goal is to develop with Vietnam the same full range 
of economic relationships that we enjoy with your Southeast Asian 
neighbors.

	I hope that many more Americans will join companies like Ford, 
Coca-Cola and Baskin Robbins in betting on Vietnam's future.  I also 
hope that more private American organizations will join groups like the 
Ford Foundation and World Vision in supporting Vietnam's development.  I 
hope that more Vietnamese students will come to study in the United 
States, to join the 66 already participating in the Fulbright 
scholarship program. 

	There is a great deal our governments can do together.  Through 
the ASEAN Regional Forum, for example, we can strive with others to 
assure stability in Southeast Asia.  One of the key issues is the South 
China Sea, a vital sea lane through which one-quarter of the world's 
ocean freight passes.  The United States will continue to urge countries 
with competing claims to resources there to resolve their disputes 
through dialogue.

	Together the United States, Vietnam and its neighbors have an 
interest in cooperating to fight narcotics trafficking.  Southeast Asia 
is the biggest source of heroin arriving on American shores.  This 
deadly drug is ruining lives in the countries through which it passes, 
including Vietnam.

	We have also started and will continue having a dialogue with 
Vietnam on human rights issues that are of great importance to the 
American people.  Progress in this dialogue will enable our two nations 
to further deepen our ties.

	This is a time of great possibility for our relations with 
Vietnam, for your country's continued growth and its integration in the 
region.  But while further progress is possible, it is not guaranteed.  
If Vietnam is to find an important place in the community of nations and 
to attract investment, it should move beyond just opening its doors.  
The key to success in this rapidly changing world is the freedom to own, 
to buy and to sell; the freedom to participate in the decisions that 
affect our lives.

	As your nation and leaders have recognized, free market reform is 
a necessary start.  All over the world, courageous reformers have 
understood that command economies cannot bring prosperity to their 
people.  Experience teaches it cannot be dismantled piecemeal.  I would 
ask you to look at economic reform as a passage over a ravine:  you 
cannot do it by taking several little steps; only one giant leap will 
get you across.

	There are many different models of market economies.  But whether 
you go to New York, or Tokyo, or Bangkok, you will find most of the 
fundamentals are the same.  All these places have private property 
rights, protected by an independent judiciary, and with ownership 
clearly defined by law.  In each, one can borrow capital, buy insurance, 
and freely exchange information.  In each, efficiency, hard work, and 
imagination are rewarded, not discouraged.

	Vietnam has made great progress in creating these conditions, and 
the result has been stunning economic growth and a range of new 
opportunities.  The policy of Doi Moi has been a tremendous success.  
But there is still much to be done to create an institutional framework 
in which a free market can flourish.  Vietnamese entrepreneurs and 
foreign investors alike need a stronger system of private banking, and 
above all, less red tape and more transparency.

	In Vietnam, as everywhere, a free market is the basic precondition 
for a productive business environment.  But I believe sustained economic 
development is more likely where courts provide due process, where 
newspapers are free to expose corruption, and where business people can 
make decisions with free access to accurate information.  The foundation 
of market economies -- rights that protect contracts, property, and 
patents -- can only be guaranteed by the rule of law.  Indeed, the 
reality of Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Thailand tells us that the 
rule of law and accountable government are the bedrock of stability and 
prosperity.  The reality of Burma and North Korea tells us that 
repression entrenches poverty.

	Our conviction -- that freedom is both practical and just -- is 
neither Western nor Eastern.  Most would agree with the 16th Century 
Vietnamese poet who said that "the people are the roots of the nation."

	Each nation must find its own way consistent with its history and 
culture.  The people of Vietnam, especially its young people, will 
choose their way.  But that is just the point.  For when you hear 
Americans talk about freedom and human rights, this is what we mean:  
Each of you ought to have the right to help shape your country's 
destiny, as well as your own.

	Today, the United States is embarking on a new relationship with 
your country, and most important, a new relationship with your people.  
There are issues on which we will disagree.  But we have, I believe, a 
common vision of Vietnam taking its rightful place in a community of 
Southeast Asian nations that is more open, more prosperous and more 
secure than ever before.  For the first time in many years, we will have 
a normal relationship, in which each of our nations can advance its 
interests in a climate of cooperation and in an age of peace.

	"Heaven has ushered in an era of renewal," says an inscription on 
Hanoi's Temple of Literature.  Let us do all that we can together to 
seize this moment and to bring those immortal words to life.

	Thank you very much.
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