May 11, 2001

SENATE LETTER TO PRESIDENT re: Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement

Cc: Hon. Robert Zoellick, USTR

We are writing to urge you to submit separately the United States/Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) to Congress for its approval at the earliest possible opportunity. We believe that the quick approval of this agreement is important to achieving vital foreign and trade policy goals.

The BTA represents years of work from both past Republican and Democratic Administrations as well as Members of Congress of both parties and across the ideological spectrum. This process of encouraging cooperation from the Vietnamese government on a broad range of issues in return for better relations between our two nations has advanced our national interests. On matters such as determining the fate of our Prisoners of War/ Missing in Action (POW/MIA), emigration, labor, economic reform and other issues, our engagement with the Vietnamese has achieved significant progress and tangible results.

The BTA represents an opportunity to take another important step in resolving one of the most turbulent chapters in our nation's history, to heal old wounds and chart a new course in bi-lateral relations. Having the BTA delayed or not approved would undermine the basis of our current relationship. This in turn would risk the solid commitments and considerable progress that the Vietnamese have made on issues such as accounting for our POW/MIAs from the war.

We understand the importance attached by your Administration to seeking the broadest possible support for the overall trade agenda. However, delaying submission of the BTA to Congress does not advance that agenda and puts at significant risk the national interests embodied by the BTA.

We believe that the BTA will enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support and will result in an important trade and foreign policy accomplishment. Therefore, we again urge you to send the BTA separately as soon as possible to the Congress for its prompt consideration.

Sincerely,

Murkowski
Kerry
McCain
Daschle
Nickels
Biden
Breaux
Jeffords
Bingaman
Lugar
Roberts
Feinstein
Thomas
Akaka
Wyden
Cantwell
Gordon Smith
Leahy
Dodd
Murray
Bond
Chafee
Baucus


 



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