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U.S. IS CONSIDERING 2 BUILDINGS FOR DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN HANOI

SHARE U.S. IS CONSIDERING 2 BUILDINGS FOR DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN HANOI

The United States is opening a diplomatic mission in Hanoi after a nearly 40-year absence and has selected a sparkling new nine-story glass tower with marble floors for its offices, sources say.

The United States also is seriously considering an old three-story French-style building with large windows, balconies, staircases and fireplace for the future ambassador's residence, the sources say.The French-style building now houses Vietnam's Press Center, which provides translators, guides and other services to the foreign press corps. The Press Center is moving out of the building on Wednesday.

U.S. officials are awaiting final approval from the Vietnamese gov-ernment to take over the buildings and plan to open the liaison office by early October, the sources said. The building was completed only a month ago by a Vietnamese construction company.

Under the agreement between the two countries, Hanoi will open a liaison office in Washington.

The liaison offices are the first steps toward full diplomatic relations and the exchange of ambassadors, once the United States is satisfied that Vietnam has done all toward the fullest possible accounting of Americans missing in action from the Vietnam War.

One of the main functions of the liaison office will be to follow up on the MIA issue. It also will deal with issues affecting the two countries such as human rights, trade and economics. It will provide some services for U.S. businessmen planning to invest in Vietnam, and for Vietnamese businessmen, students and other officials traveling to the United States.

But most of all, it will be a big psychological boost and a reassurance to American visitors. It is welcomed by the Vietnamese, particularly the young, since it likely will open the way for more of them to visit the United States. Travel for Vietnamese now is restricted mostly to a small number of students and official government delegations.