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Posted: 5/23/2001 9:17:35 AM EST
Ambassador to Vietnam to resign, possibly to run against Jeb Bush [url]www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/0523vietnam-usambassador-ON.html[/url] By Tini Tran Associated Press May 23, 2001 08:05:00 HANOI, Vietnam - U.S. Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson announced today that he will resign from his post July 15 and return to Florida, a move some say indicates he may run for governor. America's first postwar ambassador to Vietnam said he had submitted his resignation to President George W. Bush on Tuesday. "It has been an honor to serve two presidents in building a new relationship between the United States and Vietnam," he said. The announcement fuels speculation that Peterson is considering a run for governor in Florida, a post currently held by President Bush's brother, Republican Jeb Bush. Florida Democratic leaders earlier had approached Peterson about entering the race. "He told me a couple months ago he was going to make a decision by the end of May. I believe he has every intention of running," said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe. Peterson, a Democrat who served three terms in the U.S. Congress before being appointed to Vietnam, has not commented publicly on his political future. His short statement did not mention his future plans. Peterson, a former U.S. Air Force pilot held prisoner for 61/2 years during the Vietnam War, was appointed in 1997 by then-President Clinton. Diplomatic ties had been formally established in 1995. He has played a major role in forging a trade agreement that would require Vietnam to introduce an unprecedented level of competition and financial openness in exchange for greater access to U.S. markets. "I believe that we have come a very long way in my four years here, starting with our continuing partnership to determine the fate of Americans missing in action in Southeast Asia and culminating with the signing of the historic bilateral trade agreement last July," Peterson said. The Bush administration has not yet submitted the trade pact to the U.S. Congress for approval. In his statement, Peterson said he is hopeful it will be ratified before he leaves, "which will cap the full normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations." The trade deal, negotiated for more than four years, is expected to greatly increase two-way trade. It requires that Vietnamese trade barriers be lowered, that state industries compete with foreign companies, and copyright and investment guarantees be raised to international levels. The American business community in Vietnam praised Peterson's leadership in forging bonds of trust between Hanoi and Washington. "U.S.-Vietnam relations are at a point nobody could imagine five years ago," said Peter Ryder, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi. "The credibility he brought as a POW, the kind of energy and commitment he made is remarkable. He has really come to signify reconciliation between the two countries."
Link Posted: 5/23/2001 9:18:09 AM EST
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