The end of the Second Indochina War. Vietnam reunifies. Laos becomes socialist. The Khmer Rouge devastate Cambodia and ally with China to attack Vietnam. Massive migration of refugees to the US begins. US-Vietnam normalization talks collapse (1978) and a trade embargo is maintained.
FRD's Executive Director, then heading the Indochina Program (IP) in the Peace Education Division of the American Friends Service Committee arrives in Hanoi on the day the war ends. IP organizes a campaign for normalization and reconstruction aid.
Vietnam and its Cambodian allies oust Khmer Rouge, begin restoration of normal society.
Civil war rages between Vietnamese backed government in Phnom Penh and Khmer Rouge/Royalist/Republican alliance based in Thailand, armed and funded by US, ASEAN and China. US and European trade and aid embargo of Cambodia and Vietnam.
IP coordinates with Operation California first American humanitarian aid flight to Phnom Penh (1979). Director visits Cambodia in 1981, works to vacate seat in UN occupied by Khmer Rouge and for reconsideration of US policy.
Economic reforms of socialist systems in Laos and Vietnam; negotiations between Cambodian parties and international backers to find peace settlement. Cooperation on POW-MIA issue led by General John Vessey opens door to broader discussions by US (1987). Final withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia (1989) ends European and Japanese support for embargos
US-Indochina Reconciliation Project (USIRP) founded in 1985, organizes twelve study tours for American academics and professionals to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; coordinates groundbreaking visits to the US by educators, religious leaders, officials, Cambodian dancers and former Swedish Ambassador to Hanoi. First national NGO conference held (1989) that became the Forum on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. With SUNY Buffalo launches summer program of English study in US for international cooperation staff from Vietnamese and Cambodian educational institutions (1988-95) and sends ten teachers to Cambodia for intensive English program (1990).
Paris Peace Agreement (1991) ends Cambodian civil war, leading to lifting of US embargo (1992) and diplomatic relations (1993). First national elections establish coalition government. US restrictions on travel to Vietnam ended (1991), trade embargo lifted (1994), and diplomatic relations normalized (1995). US and Laos upgrade relations to ambassadorial level (1991).
USIRP presses for normal diplomatic relations; coordinates first visits to US by education ministry delegations from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; administers American Express Foundation grant for restoration of Temple of Literature; sponsors performance by water puppets troupe on Long Island; organizes 50th anniversary return to Vietnam by OSS veterans who assisted Ho Chi Minh; hosts earliest visits of key Vietnamese and Cambodian foreign relations and economic policy officials to the US; coordinates first economic development conferences between Cambodian ministry officials and overseas Cambodian intellectuals (1991, 1993); organizes five national conferences of Forum held in New York and Washington.
US and Vietnam exchange first ambassadors (1997) and sign bilateral trade agreement (2000) that receives Congressional approval (2001). US and Laos sign trade agreement (1997), not yet ratified. Cambodian coalition government collapses (1997), civil war briefly resumes without international support, national and commune elections held (1998, 2002) and Khmer Rouge remnants surrender.
USIRP works for normal trade and aid relations; hosts Viet Minh veterans for roundtable with their former OSS comrades (1997); organizes two corporate philanthropy workshops in Vietnam; sponsors speaking tour of former Australian ambassador to Cambodia (1997); sponsors first familiarization visit and internships in the US for representatives of mass organizations and domestic NGOs from Indochina (1998); coordinates volunteer observers for the Cambodian national election (1998); collaborates with Institute of International Education to sponsor three summers of US training for educational advisers from institutions in Indochina (1997-99); organizes two Forum conferences in the US, in Cambodia (1999) and in Laos (2001); sponsors meetings in New York and Washington to observe the 25th anniversary of the end of the war; coordinates three annual dinners to honor Foreign Ministers; begins work for normalization of relations with Cuba; changes name to Fund for Reconciliation and Development.
The biggest challenge before us is to keep positive relations with Indochina and Cuba a viable concern in an era of fiscal crisis, foundation retrenchment and fever for war.
With your financial support we see pursuing these goals over the next several years:
1) Mobilize support for ratification of the trade agreement with Laos.
2) Send observers to the Cambodian national election in July 2003.
3) Educate the American people and officials about the unmet moral responsibility for legacies of war such as Agent Orange.
4) Deepen and broaden relations of the US with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and forestall efforts to reverse them on specious human rights and trade protection grounds.
5) Initiate projects to bring to the US for training provincial level international cooperation staff and representatives of domestic NGOs and peoples organizations from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
6) Mobilize public and industry opinion to end restrictions on travel to Cuba.
Plus, of course, publish the Interchange and the e-mailed Washington Indochina Update; maintain the web site; distribute NGO directories; organize roundtable meetings in New York and Washington; coordinate Forums and special issue meetings in Indochina, respond to NGO and journalists questions, and much more.
Your generosity has helped to keep us going for seventeen very productive years. Please continue your generosity so we are able to continue and increase this important work.