Transcript: Interview with Phan Van Khai

From The Washington Post
Thursday, June 16, 2005; 11:48 PM

Hanoi -- June 16, 2005

The Washington Post: This is the first time a Vietnam PM is visiting the United States in 30 years. What do you see as the significance of this trip?

Khai: I think my visit to the United States is important. This is the first visit by a high-level leader of Vietnam to the United States, and the leader of a unified Vietnam. This is happening for the first time in 30 years and especially in the 10 years since the two countries have normalized their relationship.

I think during the last 10 years the two countries have accomplished a great deal. The purpose of my visit is to promote the relationship between the two countries to a higher plane. Through this visit we hope to build a constructive, long term, stable partnership between the two countries. Our ultimate goal is to further expand our relationship with the United States.

TWP: What specifically will you ask from President Bush? What will be at the very top of your agenda?

Khai: Number one is to set the framework of the long-term relationship in the 21st century. Two, I would also like him to declare his support for Vietnam's accession to World Trade Organization. Third is PNTR [note: permanent normal trading relations, which is a prerequisite to WTO membership]. Number 4 is to recognize Vietnam as a market economy with the removal of the Jackson-Vanick amendment [which denies most favored nation trade status to countries that do not allow free emigration]. Number 5 is to address the issues left by the war. We would like the United States to have the appropriate form of assistance to clear land mines and to help dioxin victims of Agent Orange. Those are the humanitarian issues for Vietnam.

TWP: What do you see as the major accomplishments of this relationship since normalization?

Khai: Since the entry of the US-Vietnam Bilateral trade agreement, two-way trade increased from $1.5 billion US in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2004, which is 20 times higher than that of 1995.

Relations between the two countries have also been developed in political, diplomatic, science, technology, anti-terrorism and health fields. Humanitarian issues have also seen good progress. Vietnam has worked very closely and actively with the U.S. in finding the remains of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. The U.S. also has provided assistance for Vietnam in clearing the landmines, finding the remains of Vietnamese soldiers missing since the war and providing assistance for disabled people, especially children in war-devastated areas.

In crucial areas such as defense and security, we also have agreed with the U.S. to implement IMET [International Military Education Training] and of course steps will be taken for Vietnam to participate in this program. The first step would be English training or training in medical expertise and other military expertise. After that, based on needs and requirements, we will take appropriate steps to increase our participation. During the visit to Washington, I am expected to visit the secretary of defense and will announce this issue.

We also will have an agreement on intelligence cooperation and in our embassy in Washington and our U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, there will be a staff post to share this intelligence, especially intelligence information on terrorism, transnational crimes and money-laundering, and for the two sides to increase the exchange of intelligence.

TWP: Vietnam is clearly moving to strengthen military and security ties with the United States. What is the significance of the intelligence sharing and why are you doing it now?

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