Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong: From special gift to diplomatic landmark

08:22 | 12/02/2016 Cooperation

(VEN) - The US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) has contributed to not only promoting trade relations between the two countries but also providing great opportunities for Vietnam to integrate into the world economy. The US-Vietnam BTA Chief Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong said that memories in the negotiations have remained and he has kept the special gift from the White House as a treasure.

Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong: From special gift to diplomatic landmark

Nguyen Dinh Luong shows off his special gift from the White House

The special gift from the White House

Hanoi this year seems to have no winter. On the last days of the lunar year, the sun remains blazing on each street. Although located in a busy long street, a house of negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong brings incredible quiet. The man, who was seen as a bright star in negotiations said that he was about to go to Nghe An Province. However he still spent two hours for an exclusive talk with the Vietnam Economic News. And these two hours made us feel like watching a movie via his memories.

The story began with the moment in the afternoon of July 13, 2000. Vietnamese Minister of Trade Vu Khoan and the US-Vietnam BTA Chief Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong were invited to the White House to meet US President Bill Clinton. To save memorable moments, Luong put a camera in his pocket with the hope of taking photographs. However he was asked to have no camera as taking photographs at the White House belongs to their reporters.

US President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam one year later in November 2001. Luong had an opportunity to meet friends from the US and they said he had the special gift. He asked repeatedly about the gift but the American remained persevering in keeping its secret.

Secret was opened a day later after the American formally handed him a beautiful photo frame. The photo captured the moment of negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong meeting and shaking hands with US President Bill Clinton. A friendly moment was saved and the two people looked into each other’s eyes with an attitude of respect. The American said that it was the special gift because not everyone going to the White House could take a photograph with the US president and receive the photo gift.

Luong said, “The photo was taken in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. It is the most precious gift in my life and a rare moment in the life of a negotiator.”

Diplomatic landmark

Luong said he respected US Former President Bill Clinton. While serving as the president of the United States of America, Bill Clinton quickly removed the legal obstacles to open a new page in the relationship between the two countries.

The Vietnamese negotiation team landed at Washington D.C on June 30, 2000. The remaining issues in negotiations quickly ended. US-Vietnam BTA Chief Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong and his US counterpart Rozepb Damont discussed and agreed to conclude negotiations and sign the agreement on July 11, 2000.

However its schedule was changed because it was dependent on the working program of the president. At that time, Bill Clinton faced difficulties against negotiations between Israel and Palestine in the Camp Davis (an American naval base). However after the final terms of the US-Vietnam BTA was passed, Bill Clinton gave a break for negotiations in the Camp Davis to come back to the White House. The US-Vietnam BTA was officially signed at 4pm on July 13, 2000.

In addition to happy memories, he also mentioned to the pain in his story.

One time during a meeting, Luong proposed the signing of the US-Vietnam BTA in the tenure of US President Bill Clinton as the president tried to remove the legal obstacles in order to open a new page in the relationship between the two countries. However somebody protested against his proposal. Luong understood their thinking because the gap between the US and Vietnam remained deep at that time.

“For those who have the responsibility involved in this new journey, they must surpass themselves to seek benefits for the nation as the era has made great changes. The nation will face difficulties in the development process if still keeping its feud,” Nguyen Dinh Luong said.

The story ended after a two-hour talk. The image of a chief negotiator with a kind face will always remain in our minds. Luong and his thoughts have helped the country promote international and regional integration thanks to the signing of a series of free trade agreements.

US-Vietnam BTA Chief Negotiator Nguyen Dinh Luong:

The photo brings a significant meaning because it’s the special gift from the US president and a happy ending for a five-year journey to open new future for the country.


Xuan Phuong