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End to Vietnam War 40 years ago led to unlikely partnership

April 30, 2015 - VIETNAM

Rapprochement with Washington hasn't held back Vietnam from exuberant celebrations on anniversaries of the Fall of Saigon, so the 40th anniversary could be marked with tanks and troops replaying the finale to the protracted Vietnam War.

It saw the humiliating defeat of the United States and non-communist South Vietnam. Since then, China's growing assertiveness in the region has led to détente between the former foes, and to the discovery of common interests.

The anniversary recalls the staggering death toll from the conflict. It claimed some 58,000 American and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese lives.

The audience for a show of the storming of the former palace in Saigon and the surrender of the southern government is likely to include dignitaries from the communist country's older partners -- Cuba, Russia, Cambodia and Laos.

In the United States retrospective are likely to focus on the heroic aspects of the final hours of the conflict, the evacuation of US personnel and many South Vietnamese from the grounds of the US embassy. Some of the most dramatic scenes were the helicopter airlifts from the embassy roof.

Retrospectives on the evolution of Vietnam-US relations in 40 years can also be expected. The landmarks include the visit by US President Bill Clinton in 2000, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's visit to Washington DC in 2005.

Vietnam re-enacts fall of Saigon to mark war milestone (BBC 30 Apr 2010)

Saigon, The Last Day (NPR April 29, 2005)

United States-Vietnam relations (US Department of State)

Date written/update: 2014-11-09