of the Vietnam War.
If there is one word that best describes Ambassador Peterson's mission
in Vietnam, it is "Reconciliation." Peterson came to Vietnam
to help heal the emotional wounds of war, to mend the U.S. and Vietnam's
political fences and to begin to build strong economic relations.
It is an enormous task.
fate of MIAs from both sides during the
war is the greatest emotional issue and remains at the forefront
of the U.S. agenda. A Joint Task Force has been working in Vietnam
since 1992 to locate American MIAs. For Vietnam's fallen soldiers,
there is no task force. But this doesn't diminish the nation's sorrow
over it's 300,000 MIAs.
As its doors
opened to foreign investment in the early 1990s, entrepreneurs and
Fortune 500 countries poured in. Doing business
in Vietnam is not for the faint hearted. It requires long term
investment and risk-taking. Promised reforms have been slow as Vietnam
tries to streamline its bureaucracy, writes the laws needed to move
into a free-market economy and rid itself of corruption. Asia's
financial crisis, which began in 1997, has also been a factor in
cooling earlier enthusiasm.
have also been hampered by U.S. government restrictions imposed
on doing business with a communist country. Formalizing the relationship
with Vietnam is very much a political issue.
Peterson goes back to Capitol Hill regularly to fight not only for
the legislation but also to urge his former colleagues in congress
to put aside the past and move forward.
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