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U.S., Vietnam agree to links

U.S. and Vietnamese negotiators have agreed in principle on the opening of liaison offices and on U.S. war claims against Vietnam, the Hanoi government said Wednesday.

A Foreign Ministry statement said that two days of talks ended "with a very positive result" and that more meetings would be held later to finalize the agreements.

The statement gave no further details, but the Vietnamese negotiators said they were doing everything possible to get their liaison office open in Washington as quickly as possible.

The liaison offices in Hanoi and Washington eventually would be upgraded to embassies if relations continue to improve, officials have said.

The talks are the first major talks between Hanoi and Washington since the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement ended U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

They were recessed after Tuesday's session with no word on when the next round would be held.

"We've been making progress," said James Hall, leader of the U.S. delegation. Hall is director of the State Department's Office of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia Affairs.

"We are enlarging the common ground and overcoming the differences," said Nguyen Xuan Phong, Vietnam's chief negotiator. "I think we are paving very well the way to better relations between the two countries."

The negotiators also took up the status of U.S. government buildings seized after the war, including the U.S. Embassy, and Vietnamese assets valued at $290-million frozen in the United States.

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