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Vietnamese Minister Meets with Rumsfeld at Pentagon

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2003 – When Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Senior Lt. Gen. Pham Van Tra entered the Pentagon today, it was the first time a defense leader from his country had entered the building since 1973.

Tra met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over lunch. The two men discussed regional and global security issues, the war on terrorism and possible U.S. and Vietnamese cooperation against terrorist organizations, officials said.

Tra represents a far different Vietnam from the U.S. ally of 1973. Then, the Republic of Vietnam, or South Vietnam, was allied with the United States combating the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, known as North Vietnam. North Vietnam defeated the South, and Americans evacuated the country in April 1975.

Over the years, successive governments improved relations. Then-Defense Secretary William S. Cohen visited the country in 2000.

The prisoner of war/missing in action issue is one that draws the two sides together, officials said. Rumsfeld thanked the general for Vietnamese cooperation in the effort to investigate cases of Americans still unaccounted- for. Pentagon officials said the Vietnamese have been extremely helpful, giving American investigators access to government archives, military museums and villagers who have recollections of the war.

The secretary and the minister spoke about ways to promote security cooperation and expand military-to-military contacts such as de-mining, search and rescue, and medical assistance.

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