Vietnam, US hold first meeting on Agent Orange research

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Sat Dec 9 20:47:56 MST 2000


Friday
8 December 2000

Vietnam, US hold first meeting on Agent Orange research
HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam and the United States held "frank and serious" talks
about Agent Orange at their first official bilateral meeting on the issue,
the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
During the five-day meeting in Singapore, which ended Friday, they discussed
research on the effects of the defoliant used during the Vietnam War on
human beings and the environment, along with other issues, the statement
said.
The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Minister of Science Technology
and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen. The U.S. group was headed by Kenneth
Olden, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
"We're optimistic that there will be further meetings," said Scott Weinhold,
spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.
Earlier this year, the United States promised to conduct joint research on
the effects of the estimated 42 million liters (11 million gallons) of
defoliants, primarily Agent Orange, sprayed by U.S. planes between 1962-71
to destroy jungle cover for communist troops.
During U.S. President Bill Clinton's historic visit to Vietnam last month,
the war's painful legacy - defoliants, missing soldiers and unexploded
ordnance - was raised during private meetings with Prime Minister Phan Van
Khai and President Tran Duc Luong.
Clinton pledged to give Vietnam a computer system with information on where
U.S. forces stored or sprayed Agent Orange. Vietnam's government estimates
there are 1 million victims of Agent Orange among its 76 million people,
including veterans who were directly doused and civilians who live in
affected areas, as well as their children.
Though Vietnam has never directly demanded wartime compensation, it has
strongly hinted that the United States has a moral responsibility to help
heal the consequences of war.
Thousands of American servicepeople were exposed as well, and blame ailments
on the defoliant.
No scientific evidence has yet been found of a direct link between dioxin -
the toxic component in Agent Orange - and multiple health problems suffered
by those exposed to it.
Studies have suggested that birth defects, miscarriages and other
complications are uncommonly high in areas of southern Vietnam that were
sprayed during the war. (AP)
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