Clinton set to lift trade embargo on Vietnamese: Decision imminent as Senate votes to give boost to US business and expedite search for missing servicemen

BILL CLINTON is poised to end the US embargo on trade with Vietnam, 19 years after the war ended, but the United States will still not resume diplomatic relations. 'I'll have a decision in the next couple of days,' the President said yesterday. 'We are reviewing it.'

The likely decision comes after two-thirds of the Senate voted in favour of ending the embargo and growing pressure from US business to trade with Vietnam. It is a sensitive matter for Mr Clinton because of his opposition to the Vietnam war in the 1960s. During the presidential election campaign he was taunted by Republicans for avoiding the draft into the armed services.

Washington's relations with Vietnam are also strongly influenced by efforts to determine the fate of 2,200 US servicemen missing in action (MIAs) in the Vietnam war. A CBS/New York Times poll shows that 57 per cent of people believe that some of the soldiers missing are still somewhere in Vietnam.

President Clinton's advisers, including the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, and the Defense Secretary, Les Aspin, recommended that improved relations with Vietnam would assist in locating the MIAs.

At the same time, the administration is moving cautiously on what it knows is a divisive issue. Veterans and MIA organisations are being informed of the reasons for the decision - there are 27 million US veterans - in order to limit the political backlash. Public opinion is also divided, with 46 per cent favouring and 40 per cent opposing the lifting of the embargo.

The Senate gave Mr Clinton political cover for his action last week by urging him, by the surprisingly large margin of 62 to 38, to end the embargo. John Kerry, the Democratic senator who proposed the resolution, said: 'The Vietnamese cannot be expected to go on and on helping us forever and receiving nothing in return but the cold shoulder of two decades of wholesale embargo.'

Opponents of dropping the embargo admit its end is inevitable. Senator Robert Smith, a Republican, said the Vietnamese were holding back on returning the remains of US soldiers, adding: 'I think it's a mistake and I regret it, but I lost the fight and I know when I'm whipped.' Another Republican, Senator John McCain, a pilot shot down over Vietnam and held for six years, says ending the embargo will help counterbalance growing Chinese influence in Vietnam.

US business, eager to establish itself in South-east Asian markets, is also conscious that the embargo gives an advantage to Japanese and other competitors. Boeing says it could sell 80 passenger jets worth dollars 5bn ( pounds 3.3bn) to Vietnam over the next 10 years, enabling it to employ an extra 50,000 workers. It lost a contract to supply four jets to Vietnam last year when reports of an end to the embargo proved false.

The turning-point for lifting the embargo came last December when the Assistant Secretary of State, Winston Lord, said after a visit to Vietnam that the government was co-operating in looking for MIAs. Some mystery remains, however, over what happened to the American pilots shot down over Laos, which the US secretly bombed in the war.

The White House will be relieved that it is no longer menaced by

a scandal relating to the lifting of the embargo. This was the accusation that the US Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, had received a dollars 700,000 pay-off from a former Vietnamese government official.

Mr Brown said yesterday that the Justice Department had ended its investigation into the allegations without bringing criminal charges against him.

A Vietnamese businessman living in Florida, Binh Ly, had claimed that, in late 1992, Mr Brown was offered the pay-off and payments of large royalties from Vietnamese oil and gas fields in return for helping end the embargo.

(Photograph and map omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?