Nearly two decades after the fall of Saigon, U.S. President Bill Clinton announces the lifting of the 19-year-old trade embargo against Vietnam, citing the cooperation of Vietnam’s communist government in helping the United States locate the 2,238 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War. Despite the lifting of the embargo, high tariffs remained on Vietnamese exports pending the country’s qualification as a “most favored nation,” a U.S. trade-status designation that Vietnam might earn after broadening its program of free-market reforms.
In July 1995, the Clinton administration established full diplomatic relations with Vietnam. In making the decision, Clinton was advised by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, an ex-Navy pilot who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Brushing aside criticism of Clinton’s decision by some Republicans, McCain asserted that it was time for America to normalize relations with its old enemy.
Five years later, in November 2000, President Clinton became the first president to visit Vietnam since Richard Nixon’s 1969 trip to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
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