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CNN Today

U.S., Vietnam on Verge of Trade Agreement

Aired July 13, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: There's word today of a major agreement that would clear the way for the first open economic relationship between Vietnam and the United States since the Vietnam War.

CNN senior White House correspondent John King joins us live with that story.

Hi, John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Andria.

The President in the White House at this hour. In about 2 1/2 hours from now, he will be on the White House grounds to announce the United States and Vietnam have signed a free trade agreement. This agreement four years in the making. It would open the market of Vietnam, a market of nearly 80 million people, to U.S. companies. Many U.S. companies have expressed an interest in building manufacturing plants and putting other operations into Vietnam. Telecommunications companies also said to be very excited by this.

It comes four years after this United States normalized relations with Vietnam, 25 years after the last U.S. troops left Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.

Now, one man who served in that war and was a prisoner of war in that war, remembered for his Republican presidential campaign this year, Senator John McCain, says he will help the president try to get this deal through the Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think we'll completely close the book until there is a full and complete accounting of those who are still listed as missing in action. But I think this is progress. I think it's good for America and I think it's good for the Vietnamese people, because this will be a boost to their economy and increase trade between our two nations. It's more important to the Vietnamese than it is to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Mr. Clinton will hail this as yet another step in his effort to use free trade and economics as a tool of international relations. But the administration says it has no expectation that the Congress will embrace this legislation this year, but it does believe it will pass soon: next year after the elections.

John King, CNN, reporting live from the White House.

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