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Westmoreland Opposes Vietnam Ties

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<i> From Associated Press</i>

The United States should not re-establish full diplomatic relations with Vietnam because the Hanoi government has not earned the privilege, retired Gen. William C. Westmoreland said Saturday.

“I do not believe that the incumbent political leadership in Hanoi merits recognition of that country at this time,” Westmoreland, who commanded U.S. troops in the Vietnam War, said in a one-sentence statement.

The Clinton Administration has been dropping hints that President Clinton plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with the former U.S. adversary after a 20-year lapse. His national security advisers have drafted a “decision memo” to that end.

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Last month, the Administration praised Vietnam’s cooperation in identifying the whereabouts of missing American servicemen, rejecting claims by MIA advocates that Hanoi is holding back.

But Westmoreland said: “It’s still a Communist government, and the people have no say. That is an established fact.”

Asked what the Vietnamese government would have to do to merit full relations, he said, “I’m in no position to go into that.”

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