BYLINE: Eleanor Clift
The last stop on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Asian tour this week is Vietnam, where she will discuss among other things an enduring remnant of the war, the after-effects of Agent Orange. The U.S. government belatedly recognized the impact of the deadly defoliant on American troops, but has resisted accepting responsibility for the damage the chemical inflicted on the Vietnamese with birth defects still evident decades after the end of the war.
Clinton, who arrives in Vietnam Thursday, is expected to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam to encourage support for a $300 million, 10-year plan developed by the Aspen Institute as part of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin to clean up dioxin "hot spots" and help people with disabilities, while stopping short of linking those disabilities to the Agent Orange spraying.
Common Cause head Bob Edgar, a member of the Dialogue Group and an ordained minister, described to reporters in a conference call how he and a group of clergy on a recent trip to Vietnam could see and smell the virulent defoliant still seeping out of the ground in Da Nang , a major port city in Vietnam .
He told how a guide had them stop ahead of time in Ho Chi Minh City to buy waterproof, disposable shoes, and when they landed at the Da Nang aiport and saw the devastation, realized why they needed them. The airport was the major U.S. air base during the war, serving as the supply depot for Agent Orange, and the toxic chemicals have not been cleaned up. Edgar described walking on a platform over the area where the dioxin was processed, and where U.S. troops would cut the barrels in half and use them to cook their food.
Read more at: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/07/20/agent-orange-cleanup-a-priority-for-hillary-clinton-in-vietnam/