June 22, 2005
History in the making happened at the White House this morning: the first visit form the Vietnamese leader since the Vietnam War. It was a war that ended more than 30 years ago, and caused more than 2 million deaths as well as internal conflicts between the United States and Vietnam. Thirty years later, a new relationship begins.
"I want to thank you for the constructive visit we had today," said President George W. Bush.
It was a visit that made history in the nation's capital today. Prime Minister of Vietnam, Phan Van Khai, made a visit to the White House.
The Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Khai was the first such meeting since the Vietnam War ended 30 years ago. The meeting was held to discuss the United States assistance in helping Vietnam join the World Trade Organization, which President Bush agrees with. Currently the U.S. is the top trading partner with that nation.
"Vietnam is also actively integrating itself into the world economy," said Prime Minister Khai. " Wishes (the country) to be a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the international community."
As history was in the making inside the White House, outside played out differently. Protestors lined the White House gates, speaking out against what they say is political and religious cruelty in Vietnam.
President Bush says that a landmark agreement was signed to make worshipping freely easier for the Vietnamese.
Praises were given to the communist nation for their help in finding the remains of U.S. troops lost during the Vietnam War.
"It's very comforting to many families here in America to understand that the [Vietnamese] government is providing information to help close a sad chapter in their lives," said President Bush.
With that chapter closing, new chapters are beginning for two countries. Now President Bush plans to visit Vietnam sometime next year during the Asian Pacific Economic Summit. Bush says that he is looking forward to attending. This won't be the first time that a U.S. President has visited the country since the war; former President Clinton made a trip to Vietnam in 2000 after he established ties with that country.