An Interview with Viet Nam's Nguyen Van Linh

"Let us put the war behind us and work for a peaceful future"

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On the recent leadership changes. Originally, there were great leaders whose primary task was to liberate the whole country, regain independence and reunify the country. They made history. Today leadership tasks have changed. The style is also changing. We do not forget the great leaders who preceded us, and we approach our task, as they did, with a high degree of responsibility for the destiny of our nation. Democratic rights have been broadened. The working principle of openness -- let the people know, let the people discuss, let the people work and let the people control -- is fast becoming a way of life in our society.

On Vietnamese and Soviet reforms. The reasons for restructuring in the Soviet Union and renovation in Viet Nam are not the same. The level of development of the two countries is different. But both changes are aimed at freeing productive forces and accelerating development. The Soviet Union strongly supports Viet Nam's renovation, and Viet Nam wholeheartedly supports the Soviet Union's restructuring.

On Viet Nam's occupation of Kampuchea. I don't think it was a mistake for us to go in there. Even in the worst hours of the war with America, there was no such brutal massacre of Vietnamese civilians as occurred when ((Khmer Rouge Leader)) Pol Pot invaded our land ((in 1978)). We had no choice but to fight back. China gave the Pol Pot forces support, weapons and money. After we got them out and they went into Thailand, I should add, they received assistance from the CIA. Under such circumstances, the people of Kampuchea asked us to remain. As soon as the situation is stabilized and the Pol Pot regime cannot begin again to massacre at will, the volunteers from Viet Nam will come home.

On China. Relations are difficult, not just because of the Kampuchea problem. China wanted Viet Nam to be its satellite, and through Viet Nam, Kampuchea and Laos expand China's power into Southeast Asia.

On trade. We want to broaden economic cooperation with all countries, socialist or capitalist, on the basis of mutual benefits and without political conditions. International trade is important to our future, especially with our neighbors and with Japan. Many private companies have already established economic ties with Viet Nam. We want to see those expand. I believe we are moving in the direction of the economic integration of Southeast Asia.

On his pastimes. There isn't much time these days, but when there is an hour here or there, I turn to reading. My first love is Vietnamese literature, but I also enjoy Victor Hugo, Balzac, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

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