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Vietnam reaches trade deal with US- state media

Written by: Staff
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HANOI, May 13 (Reuters) Vietnam has reached agreement on a trade deal with its former war enemy the United States that should pave the way for the communist-run country to join the World Trade Organisation, state-run media reported on Saturday.

The VietnamNet online newspaper quoted sources close to the Vietnamese trade negotiatiors in Washington as saying the sides had reached agreement after ''finding a common voice'' on outstanding trade issues.

The report did not provide details and could not immediately be confirmed.

It said Vietnamese Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen was going to make an official announcement on Saturday in Washington.

Once a deal is completed, the U.S. Congress must vote on giving the Southeast Asian country of 83 million people Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status. Then Vietnam would submit its final request for WTO membership later in 2006.

Some members of the U.S. Congress were expected to put religious and human rights constraints on any trade bill. But on a visit to Hanoi last month, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert urged Congress to pass a deal because the ''greater good'' outweighed human rights concerns.

Vietnam has completed deals needed to enter the WTO with all of its other leading trade partners.

Hanoi wants to be a WTO member by the time it hosts U.S.

President George W. Bush in November for the annual summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The United States and Vietnam restored diplomatic relations in 1995, 20 years after the end of the Vietnam War. Since the countries signed an previous business deal in 2001 known as the Bilateral Trade Agreement, Vietnamese exports to the United States have grown to more than .5 billion in 2005.

REUTERS SY PC2116

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