"After communist North Vietnam's victory over U.S.-backed South Vietnam in 1975, U.S.-Vietnam relations remained essentially frozen for over 15 years. Since then, bilateral ties have expanded remarkably, to the point where the relationship has been virtually normalized. Congress played a significant role in this process, and continues to influence the state of bilateral relations. Some argue that improvements in bilateral relations should be conditioned upon Vietnam's authoritarian government improving its record on human rights, particularly in the Central Highlands region. Voices favoring improved relations have included those reflecting U.S. business interests in Vietnam's reforming economy and U.S. strategic interests in expanding cooperation with a populous country -- Vietnam has around 85 million people -- that has an ambivalent relationship with China. […] For years, the United States has supported Vietnam's economic reforms, which many credit with Vietnam's extraordinary economic performance; annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged over 7% for the past twenty years. Since the early 1990s, poverty levels have been halved, to less than 30%. In the past four years, the United States and Vietnam have expanded political and security ties, symbolized by the Vietnamese Prime Minister's visit to the United States in June 2005, the first such trip by a Vietnamese head of state. Both leaders spoke of their desire to move bilateral relations to 'a higher plane' and President Bush reciprocated by traveling to Vietnam in November 2006. In 2005, the United States and Vietnam signed an international military education training (IMET) agreement. Vietnam is one of the largest recipients of U.S. assistance in East Asia; U.S. aid in FY2006 surpassed $75 million, much of it for health-related activities."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33316