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Secretary of State Warren Christopher emphasized to Vietnam's foreign minister Tuesday that progress on resolving the fate of missing American servicemen is a precondition to lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Hanoi.

With Nguyen Manh Cam at his side as they posed for photographers, Christopher said, "I want to emphasize on this particular issue that President Clinton is very clear that it will be progress" on the MIA issue "that will determine whether there is progress toward improving the relationship between our two countries."It was the second meeting between the two men, who first met when they sat side by side at dinner Sunday night at an Asian foreign ministers meeting.

Christopher's message to Cam was designed to assuage the concerns of veterans groups and relatives of missing Americans that the Clinton administration was moving too fast to normalize relations with Hanoi. Clinton earlier this month removed U.S. barriers to international loans for Vietnam but said removing the U.S. trade embargo in place since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 would depend on further progress on the MIA issue.

Cam, for his part, told Christopher that he wanted to "reaffirm on this occasion our consistent policy of cooperation on MIA issues." He also said improved relations between Hanoi and Washington would serve the interests of both countries.

That, too, was the message Christopher heard from some 400 American businessmen who complained that the trade embargo was hurting no one but Americans who were losing out to other countries establishing a foothold in the newly market-oriented Vietnamese economy.