Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Shifts on 2 Old Foes: Cuba, Vietnam New Status Is in View for Both

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Shifts on 2 Old Foes: Cuba, Vietnam New Status Is in View for Both

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton's administration is signaling its intention to make peace with two longtime communist enemies.

Clinton let top officials confirm this week that he wants to extend diplomatic recognition to Vietnam and ease some travel restrictions to Cuba.

Clinton has been pushed hard by European allies, who think the U.S. conflicts with Cuba and Vietnam are antiquated. Clinton already has extended olive branches to both countries.

He dumbfounded many Cuban-Americans by telling Cuba in May that the United States no longer would accept refugees fleeing Cuba - something Cuban leader Fidel Castro had long sought. And in February 1994, he ended the trade ban with Vietnam.

A key to Clinton's foreign policy is free trade. Even though he campaigned in 1992 against free trade with China, the last remaining communist giant, Clinton changed his mind in office. Despite China's human rights abuses, he has extended most favored nation trade status to China every year. The potential market of 1 billion people - which Europe also is courting - proved too great a lure.

As for Cuba, Clinton wants to be able to boast that he formed a cohesive free trade region in the Western hemisphere. In December, he invited all the leaders except Castro to Miami where they pledged to work toward the goal of a giant unified trading bloc.

***** Vietnam Action

Trade with Vietnam already is beginning, but Clinton has another motive for seeking diplomatic ties. …

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