Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Vietnam in the News

Found these two articles interesting today:
  • Vietnam discovers mass grave of communist soldiers

    Posted: Sep. 7, 2008

    A military official says authorities in Vietnam's Central Highlands have discovered a mass grave containing 22 sets of remains of communist soldiers killed during the Vietnam War.

    Lieut. Col. Nguyen Tien Lam of the provincial military command says it took an excavation team of 12 soldiers five days to recover the remains in Kon Tum province.

    He said Monday that the remains were discovered by a resident who was digging the foundation for a house. He says the excavation team also found personal effects, such as rubber sandals, water containers, hammocks and bullets.

    Lam says none of the remains have been identified. But he says that based on the items found at the site and accounts from residents in the area, authorities believe the remains belonged to communist soldiers killed during the Tet Offensive.

    An estimated 58,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975.

  • US, Vietnam open annual Agent Orange meetings

    The U.S. and Vietnam on Monday opened their third round of annual talks on ways to limit the environmental effects of Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant the U.S. sprayed extensively during the Vietnam War.

    Officials and experts from both countries convened a weeklong session that will include a visit to the former U.S. air base at Bien Hoa, one of several so-called Agent Orange "hotspots" where the U.S. military stored and mixed Agent Orange before loading it onto planes.

    The two sides are expected to announce plans for using US$3 million the U.S. Congress set aside in 2007 for the cleanup of dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange.

    U.S. forces sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange on Vietnamese jungles during the war to deprive Vietnamese troops of ground cover and to damage crops.

    Vietnam believes as many as 4 million people have suffered serious health problems associated with Agent Orange. The U.S. says the actual number is probably far lower and that further scientific study is needed to understand the link between Agent Orange and health.

    Part of the US$3 million allocation has already been set aside to help people with disabilities in Danang, the site of another former U.S. air base and another Agent Orange hotspot.

    The Vietnamese have complained that the US$3 million isn't nearly enough. They say cleaning up the Danang site alone will cost at least US$14 million.

    The U.S. counters it has spent more than US$40 million since 1989 to help Vietnamese with disabilities, regardless of their causes.

    The Agent Orange issue is perhaps the most contentious remaining legacy of the Vietnam War.

    After years of disagreement over the subject, the two sides began working together more closely two years ago to address problems linked with the defoliant.

    A joint study in Danang found dioxin levels were 300 to 400 times higher than internationally accepted limits.