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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Vietnam and the United States tentatively agreed on Wednesday to allow the first commercial flights between the two countries since the end of the Vietnam War, an official said.
The two sides were still working out the final details, but were expected to initial an agreement Thursday, according to an official from Vietnam's Civil Aviation Administration who participated in the talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Vietnam's relations with the United States have broadened since a bilateral trade agreement went into effect in December 2001. The pact has significantly increased two-way trade between the former foes, but negotiators have been unable to reach an agreement on air travel.
American carriers must now use code-sharing agreements with other airlines that operate in the country, which means passengers flying between the two countries have to switch planes somewhere before reaching their final destination.
A U.S. Embassy official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said both sides were expected to meet Thursday for the initialing.
The accord, which would have to be formally accepted by both countries, would allow commercial flights between the United States and Vietnam, but no details were available on when the service would begin.
"The two countries have been waiting for this agreement for a long time. This is a new step forward in bilateral relations," said Le Dang Doanh, an economist and adviser to the minister of planning and investment. "With the agreement, Vietnam has the opportunity to fly to the United States, a huge market, but it also has to face fierce competition" from U.S. airlines, he said.
The deal comes as Vietnam moves toward a market economy and works to promote tourism.
Vietnam has said the American market accounts for 10 percent of its aviation business, and the percentage would likely increase with direct flights making travel quicker and more convenient.
More than 1 million Vietnamese reside in the United States, many of whom fled Vietnam after the communists defeated the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam in 1975. Many overseas Vietnamese have begun traveling back to their homeland.
Negotiations on an aviation agreement broke down three years ago but resumed earlier this year. Details about the talks haven't been released, but local media earlier reported that a major sticking point going into this round involved regulations for passengers or cargo to switch flights during stopovers at major airport hubs.
The U.S. delegation in the talks, led by Laura Faux-Gable, deputy director of the State Department's Office of Aviation Negotiations, also includes representatives of the Department of Transportation.
Several large American carriers also were included, along with cargo carriers and a representative of San Francisco International Airport.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Re: Vietnam, U.S. Agree to Resume Flights [Re: wingnutx] #1990355 - 10/08/03 04:28 PM (14 years, 4 months ago)
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