WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has decided to launch a major diplomatic initiative toward Vietnam, offering American's former wartime adversary a series of trade and economic benefits and new steps toward a normalization of ties with the United States if Vietnam helps to bring about a quick peace settlement in Cambodia, U.S. sources say.
"The administration would like to lay that [Vietnam] era to rest," one senior administration official told the Los Angeles Times yesterday. "What the administration is trying to do is to give Hanoi and Phnom Penh every incentive to cooperate."
Assistant Secretary of State Richard H. Solomon was expected to present the new U.S. proposals to Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Nations Trinh Xuan Lang in New York today and to outline them on Capitol Hill in testimony tomorrow.
One administration official said the new U.S. initiative will amount to "a road map" detailing exactly what benefits Vietnam and the Vietnamese-backed government in Cambodia will obtain from a Cambodian peace settlement. The exact details of the proposal were not available.
Vietnam, confronted with a drastic cutback in economic support from the Soviet Union, has been seeking a lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam and an end to the ban on World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international loans to Vietnam. U.S. support is considered crucial for Vietnam to obtain loans from international financial institutions.
"The Vietnamese dearly want international aid," one Asian diplomat said yesterday.
Administration officials emphasized that Vietnam will not get any of the new "incentives" unless it cooperates in bringing about peace in Cambodia.