The American Red Cross is sending its first official delegation to Hanoi Saturday, the local Red Cross office said Thursday.

The delegation is a sign that Washington is easing past restrictions on development aid work in Vietnam.The Red Cross group will try to identify projects it could finance at a time when foreign organizations are increasing activity in the isolated communist country.

Washington has no diplomatic relations with Hanoi and its longstanding trade embargo against Vietnam has blocked many development aid projects. But it has eased such restrictions in the past two years.

The American delegation, whose host will be the Red Cross of Vietnam, will visit Hanoi until April 20, then fly to Ho Chi Minh City and on to Bangkok, Thailand, April 24, Dr. Do Duc Duong, vice general secretary of the Red Cross of Vietnam, told Reuters.

In New York Tuesday, the United States presented Vietnam with a plan to normalize relations, calling for Vietnam to first help end the 12-year civil war in Cambodia, its close ally.