The last American president to visit Viet-nam was Richard Nixon, who traveled to the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon in 1969, at the height of a war that eventually took 58,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives. Today, Bill Clinton begins a three-day trip to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as Saigon is now called. Mr. Clinton's visit is striking evidence of how far the two countries have moved beyond the rancor of that conflict. But if a healthy new relationship is to be built, Hanoi must ease bureaucratic restrictions on foreign investment and show greater respect for the civil and religious liberties of its people.
Mr. Clinton's itinerary inevitably looks back to war-related issues, like repatriating the remains of Americans lost in action and helping remove land mines still buried in Vietnamese soil. But he should also use his visit to press for a faster pace of political and economic reform.
--New York Times
It's not surprising that President Clinton's visit to Vietnam recently will be attacked in some quarters; his protests during the Vietnam War have made him an understandable target since his first run for president. Despite his past, however, he still has a responsibility as president to pursue the right policies for the nation. That makes his trip to Vietnam the right thing to do now. ...
--The State of Columbia, S.C.
No apologies for past battles tumbled from President Clinton's lips during his three-day visit last week to one-time enemy Vietnam. Nor were any substantial initiatives launched.
This was not a trip, though, for deep diplomacy or admitting sins. Rather, Clinton promoted a forward-looking relationship based on his mantra that free trade equals better foreign relations and domestic well-being for all.
The trip earned the adjective historic. It was the first time an American president has been in Vietnam since the conflict raged and the only time one ever has visited Hanoi.
Clinton's push to end American ostracism of Vietnam has reaped results. Most notably, soldiers who served there, including former prisoners of war such as U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, returned to heal the wounds of combat.
--The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
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