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Vietnam Leader Seeks to Bury the Hatchet With U.S.

<i> Times Wire Services</i>

Communist Party leader Nguyen Van Linh, 15 years after the fall of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government, appealed Monday for friendship and economic cooperation with the United States.

“We feel friendship for the American people even though U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam,” Linh told United Press International in an impromptu interview during celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the 1975 Communist victory.

Linh, who has initiated gradual economic and political reforms since coming to power in 1986, conceded that Vietnam faces “many difficulties.”

He urged the United States to lift an embargo on aid, trade and investment in Vietnam.

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In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said at a briefing that the United States would like to normalize relations with Vietnam, but not without a political settlement in Cambodia.

The United States imposed the embargo in 1975 to pressure Vietnam to help create an accord in neighboring Cambodia. Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 to oust the Khmer Rouge.

Tutwiler said that the pace and scope of normalization will also depend upon continued cooperation with Washington on humanitarian issues, including the fate of U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action in Vietnam.


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