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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Clinton plans historic Vietnam visit
US Vietnam
Ties between the two countries have become closer
Bill Clinton will become the first US president to visit Vietnam since the end of the war 25 years ago.

The visit will take place in November, after the presidential elections, and will be one of Mr Clinton's final foreign tours.

US helicopter
The US poured huge amounts of money and troops into Vietnam
The historic trip also marks the latest stage in a process of reconciliation between the two countries

Diplomatic ties were re-established in 1995, and Vietnam signed a major trade deal with the US earlier this year.

The last US president to visit Vietnam was the late Richard Nixon, who travelled to what was South Vietnam in 1969 to rally US forces.

High casualties

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for US backed South Vietnamese forces by Communist troops from the north.

The war cost the lives of 58,000 US troops, and an estimated 3m Vietnamese.

Key dates
1964: First US bombing raids on North Vietnam
1975: Last US troops flee Saigon
1976: N and S Vietnam unified
1994: Clinton lifts trade embargo
1997: Madeleine Albright visits

By 1975, US involvement had dwindled from its late 1960s peak due to high casualties and a growing realisation that the country was involved in a war it could not win.

President Clinton, who was at college during the conflict, escaped the draft due to his status as a student.

However, his exemption has long dogged his political career, and some opponents still refer to him as a 'draft dodger'.

President Clinton
Mr Clinton's trip will be one of his last as president
His appointment of Al Gore, a Vietnam veteran, as his running mate in 1992 was seen by many as one attempt to escape such criticisms.

In March, Defence Secretary William Cohen also became the first US defence minister to visit the country since the end of the war on 1 April 1975.

The US Defence Department is continuing to attempt to locate the remains of 2,000 US personnel still unaccounted for from the war.

Mr Cohen's visit was also aimed at exploring possible military ties between Vietnam and the US.

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See also:

02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam conflict remembered
14 Jul 00 | Business
US and Vietnam enter new era
13 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam 1945 to 1975: timeline
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