Clinton says Vietnam economy requires improved rule of law

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Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (R) looks at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they walk to the meeting room at the Government Guest House in Hanoi July 10, 2012.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said Vietnam has to improve the rule of law to ensure its economy continues to grow.

Clinton is in Vietnam to increase US economic engagement that has grown from "practically nothing," as she described it, when relations were normalized in 1995, to more than $22 billion in annual trade between the two nations today.

Minh welcomed increased US engagement in Vietnam and noted that brands including General Electric Corp. of Fairfield, Connecticut, Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Washington and Cargill Inc., based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are already in the country. There is still "a lot of room to improve our economic ties," Minh said. "I hope in the future the US will become the number one investor."

Clinton's agenda during the day-long stop in Hanoi includes talks on non-proliferation, public health and legacy issues from the Vietnam War such as unexploded ordnance, the chemical defoliant Agent Orange and accounting for those missing in action.

Educational exchanges

In remarks later in the day to Vietnamese graduates of the US Fulbright scholarship program, Clinton spoke of the US government's interest in deepening personal ties between the two countries through educational and cultural exchanges. About 15,000 Vietnamese students study in the US each year and Clinton said the US hopes to send Peace Corps volunteers to Vietnam in the near future.

Clinton placed strongest emphasis on the need to deepen economic ties and trade, which she said has grown 40 percent since her last visit two years ago.

"But we see the potential for much more," Clinton said.

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