Interview With Nguyen Thai Hung of the Vietnam News AgencySecretary Condoleezza Rice
November 8, 2006
QUESTION:Madame Secretary, the process of normalization of Vietnam-U.S. relation has witnessed many milestones during the past ten years, especially the exchange of visit between the high-ranking leaders of the two countries. In your opinion, how do you assess the importance of upcoming Vietnam visit of President George W. Bush to Vietnam relation in particular and Asia Pacific region in general?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President is very much looking forward to his visit to Vietnam, as am I, because Vietnam is a country that's going through tremendous change. It is going through tremendous change internally. It is going to join the World Trade Organization. Our economic relationship is moving forward. We continue our dialogue about the process of democratization and human rights. It's becoming a very broad relationship.
And so I assess the President's visit there as an extremely important one for us that demonstrates that Vietnam can be a very important partner for the United States and a very important partner in Asia for the United States.
QUESTION: Hosting of APEC meeting this time reflects the increasing role of Vietnam in the world arena after more than 20 years of renovation and international integration? What message does the United States expect from the 14th APEC meeting in the context the Doha trade negotiation are facing many difficulties?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, APEC is a very important organization in which people believe in free trade. I've been now to several APEC summits and these are countries that are benefiting from free trade. Vietnam will benefit from its accession into the WTO. The countries of APEC seem to me to have the right view of the importance of free trade.
This is an important voice in what is happening in the world in trade because we need a successful Doha round. The World Trade Organization is really one of our most important tools for using the international trading system to give countries the ability to make their products available, to create jobs, and out of creating jobs to create prosperity.
And so I hope that the message that will come out of APEC is the importance of free trade, the importance of living up to the rules of the free trading system, like intellectual property rights protection, and APEC has tended to have very good messages in that regard, and given the troubles for the Doha round it's a good time for APEC to speak with one voice about the importance of trade.
QUESTION: The upcoming visit of President Bush to Vietnam take placed after Vietnam admitted as an official member of WTO. What do you view the prospects of Vietnam-U.S. relation in the context that the two countries are equal members in WTO?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it shows how far Vietnam has come in really a very short period of time that we're talking about Vietnam within the World Trade Organization, we're talking about increased trade with the United States, we're talking about normal trade relations between Vietnam and the United States. This is going to be of tremendous benefit to both Vietnam and to the United States in terms of job growth, in terms of making the markets open for products.
But I think this is something that Vietnam should be very proud of because this is a country that has been through a great deal. We know that. And yet when we go to Vietnam we will be sitting across from another member of the World Trade Organization talking not just about how to increase our own bilateral trade relationships, but how to make those trade relationships benefit an entire region. And Vietnam should be very proud of its accession to the WTO.
QUESTION: And the last question, Madame Secretary. You are one of the very successful women in the United States and are well known in Vietnam, too. In our history, many Vietnamese women also held high-ranking position. What would you like to share with Vietnamese women during your first visit to Vietnam?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, what a very nice question. I would like to say to women in Vietnam that I hope they are taking their rightful place in the political system. Very often women are well represented in business or in education, but not so well represented in the political system. And I expect that in a country like Vietnam that is opening up, where business is growing, where contacts with the outside world are growing, that you're going to see many, many more women involved in politics.
We've learned something very important. When women are involved in economies, children are better educated, the country grows better, particularly when you talk about rural areas where in villages that have been poor very often women-owned businesses are the way that a village will begin to gain prosperity. And I'm sure I'm going to find many examples of that in Vietnam. So I look forward to meeting the women of Vietnam as well.
QUESTION: Thank you very much and welcome and wish you have a good trip to Vietnam.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I'm very excited about it. Thank you.
Released on November 12, 2006