When mutual efforts to normalize relations between Vietnam and the U.S. were progressing toward a bright future, Cambodia’s ex-ruling regime, the China-backed Khmer Rouge, massacred Vietnamese people along the border and on islands. Khmer Rouge soldiers had encroached on Vietnam and provoked responses along the border with military attacks since late 1975. Three years later, Vietnam decided to counterattack the Khmer Rouge to defend its people, a move which ruined effort to normalize diplomatic ties with the U.S. Was the Khmer Rouge, China, or the military counterattack of Vietnam to be blamed for the stalemate in Vietnam-U.S. ties? It was geopolitical issues and the role of Beijing that contributed to the delay of Hanoi-Washington normalization for two decades. However, Vietnam and the U.S. have overcome these obstacles to reach their current relationship after 40 years of effort. Following the visit of a U.S. delegation to Hanoi in 1977, Vietnam sent a delegation to negotiate normalization with Washington in Paris, France the same year. The U.S. suggested concrete steps toward normalization and promised to lift the ban on Vietnamese exports. Vietnam was also admitted to the UN in 1977 during the term of Democrat President Jimmy Carter. Vietnamese diplomat Tran Quang…
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