Ex-South Vietnamese VP wants to bury past on visit home


WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2004�Former South Vietnamese vice president Nguyen Cao Ky says he will return to his native country for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War with a message of reconciliation, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Ky, now a resident of southern California, said Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Dinh Bin proposed the trip in July 2003. �Bin told me that now is the time to put the past behind us, to not make an issue of the past, and bring Vietnam together for the future,� Ky said in an interview. �And I answered� let�s put the past behind us and bring the country together. And I am ready to accept that. So I will go home and visit my homeland.�

Former General Nguyen Cao Ky speaks to the 2000 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. Hanoi on Jan. 8 granted Ky permission to visit in what will be his first homecoming since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Ky will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan. 14 to visit relatives and friends for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or Tet, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said. Officials also said Ky would visit Hanoi and his hometown of Son Tay, approximately 40 kms northwest of Hanoi.

�Some overseas people, and even some people in Vietnam are against my going home and I don�t know why,� Ky said, referring to anger among some Vietnamese that his visit will signal acquiescence to the Communist leadership in Hanoi.

�I know there are people who agree with me and those who oppose my decision, and I just have to accept that. But I still want to go because I am thinking for the people. I don�t care about this party or that party, I just care about the country.�

�The war ended 30 years ago, but it still divides us into two camps. So I want to put aside the past hatred, and just sit together and talk to one another face to face. And I believe if everybody loves the country and loves its people, we will sit together as one,� he said.

�If we continue to say �you are a republican� and �you are a communist� and argue, everyone will think we�re ridiculous. If we are talking about the younger generation, they don�t think like us, they don�t carry the same hatred. And they�re are the ones who are serving the country well,� Ky said.

Ky, 73, led the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government from 1965-67 and served as vice president from 1967-71. He fled to the United States after communist forces defeated his government in 1975. Ky now writes and lectures in Southern California.

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