The French Foreign Minister Monsieur Jean Francois Poncet greeted four hundred and fifty Vietnamese people with the right to French citizenship, on their arrival in Paris on Saturday (1 December).
The French Foreign Minister Monsieur Jean Francois Poncet greeted four hundred and fifty Vietnamese people with the right to French citizenship, on their arrival in Paris on Saturday (1 December). The French government had negotiated with Hanoi officials to allow the group to join relatives and friends who live in France.
SYNOPSIS: France's relationship with Vietnam goes back to the late nineteenth century when it claimed the Southeast Asian country as part of French Indochina. Though nationalist and revolutionary groups tried from 1920 to overthrow their colonial masters the relationship between France and Vietnam continued until the 1950's. And as is common during colonial rule, many Vietnamese gained French citizenship.
The French Foreign Minister Monsieur Poncet was on hand at Orly Airport to greet the refugees. Many of the Vietnamese have been waiting for years to secure permission from the Hanoi government to join relatives who have settled in France.
As the refugees met relatives--some for the first time, Monsieur Poncet welcomed them on behalf of the French government. He said later that this was only the first group of several that the Hanoi government has agreed will soon be able to join relatives in France.
France has also agreed to take about eight thousand Vietnamese boat people. The French public rallied around philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's "Vote for Vietnam Movement" which urged the French government to take a strong stand on the plight of the boat people and to provide refuge for many of them.
But these refugees did not flee in boats. Instead, they had to wait out long, sensitive, negotiations between the French and Vietnamese governments. The final agreement which allowed them to leave Vietnam was seen as the start of more cordial relations between Paris and Hanoi.