US-Vietnam relations at a 15-year high: ambassador

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The US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, is set to visit Vietnam later this month as Hanoi hosts the ASEAN-Region Forum, the US ambassador to Vietnam has said.

It is the first high-level visit to mark 15 years of bilateral ties between the former war adversaries.

"We don't agree on everything but in areas where we disagree, we're willing to sit down and discuss very openly," US Ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Michalak, said in a press briefing earlier this week to officially commemorate the ties, saying that relationships were at their strongest since 1995.

The embassy noted that progress was being made in every area of relations, with two-way trade in 2009 reaching US$15.4 billion as the US now remains Vietnam's largest export market and third-largest overall trade partner.

The two sides have started cooperation in areas considered "sensitive" as little as five years ago, such as peacekeeping operations and training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security and counterterrorism.

However, the US has been criticized for providing a small amount of funding to deal with the Agent Orange/dioxin effects, providing only $9 million since 2007.

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