Clinton returns to Vietnam in surprise visit

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Former US President Bill Clinton returned to Vietnam on Sunday on a surprise visit, promoting works of Clinton Foundation in the country and honoring the 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"The normalization of relations between the US and Vietnam was one of the proudest moments of my presidency," Clinton said during his address at the Hanoi-based Foreign Trade University.

He said it "marked the healing of all the wounds" and revealed to the world "what the 21st century would be."

Since 2005, the Clinton Foundation has been implementing several projects in Vietnam, assisting the country in medical staff training, testing and diagnosing capabilities, and in providing medicines for HIV/AIDS patients, especially children.

The foundation is also implementing the Clinton Climate Initiative in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, helping Vietnam address the effects of climate change and improve water resources management, especially in the Mekong area.

"I'm honored to do this work alongside so many Vietnamese. This nation and the people hold a very special place in my heart," he said.

Clinton, who was the first US president to visit Vietnam after the war ended, praised the two countries' relations as "one of the few things that both political parties in Washington, D.C. agree on.

"Look at what happened afterward, bilateral trade increased more than 17-fold, and even during the global economic downturn in 2009, US exports to Vietnam grew by 11 percent while it dropped in most other Southern Asian countries," he said.

"You, and only you now, can redeem the sacrifice of those who were lost in both sides during the terrible war," he told the students. "You can redeem it by freeing future generations of Vietnamese and Americans to live their dreams, for what happened in the last 15 years and for what lies ahead."

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