RFA Conducts Exclusive Interview with President Clinton

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Washington, D.C. - In his first post-Vietnam trip interview, President Bill Clinton told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that he had "good discussions and constructive disagreements" with the leadership of Vietnam during his stay in the country. "I had very open conversations with the prime minister, with the secretary general, and with the president," said President Clinton. "We have to say what we think human rights and religious rights and individual freedoms have meant to our country." The President said that an open dialogue between the U.S. and Vietnam?coupled with the economic and social change already beginning in Vietnam?would lead the country in a positive direction. "That's what I believe," he told RFA's Vietnamese service, "and I think it will be very important for my successor to continue that dialogue." President Clinton said he believed that Vietnam would soon ratify the U.S.- Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. "[Vietnam] understands that the timing is not good for ratification now," said the president, "but I think as soon as we ratify it, they will. We told them that we would be spending a couple of million dollars a year over the next three years to help insure the rapid and thorough implementation of the agreement." President Clinton spoke with RFA on Sunday, November 19 from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, during a brief stopover on his way home from Vietnam. He told RFA the trip was a success for four reasons: first, it allowed him to support efforts to recover the remains of both American and Vietnamese missing in action during the Vietnam War. Second, it permitted him to encourage the country?s economic progress. Third, it allowed him to speak of the future to the Vietnamese people directly over television. Finally, it opened a new dialogue with the Vietnamese leadership. Radio Free Asia is a private corporation that was established in 1996 to provide news and information to listeners in China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Laos and Cambodia. It is funded by grants from Congress. RFA's mission is to be a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from within Asian nations whose people do not have full freedom of expression. Listener confidence in the quality and credibility of its broadcasts is RFA's highest priority. RFA is a journalistically independent organization whose autonomy is key to providing objective domestic news and information.


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