Clinton reportedly will end Vietnam trade embargo

February 02, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton has decided to lift the 19-year-old trade embargo against Vietnam, and could announce the move at a White House ceremony before the end of the week, according to administration officials.

The decision, which would mark a historic step of reconciliation, follows a formal recommendation by Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher late last week, which in turn capped long deliberations by the administration over the highly emotional issue. The White House is expected to attach no conditions to the ending of the trade ban, officials said.

The formal signing ceremony has been delayed to give the administration time to follow usual procedures and notify members of Congress of its plans. The president has sole authority to take the action, which will be accomplished through an executive order.

The embargo, which has prohibited all trade with Hanoi since the end of the war, has been relaxed slightly in recent months to permit some businesses to begin making contacts in Vietnam.

Sen. Robert C. Smith, R-N.H., has argued that Vietnam has not done enough to account for missing servicemen left behind in Vietnam after the war. Veterans groups had hoped the administration would continue to enforce the embargo as a way to pressure the Vietnamese into doing more to account for the MIAs.

The American Legion, the National League of Families and other veterans and family groups have objected strongly to removal of the embargo.

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