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US attitude towards Agent Orange more positive

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

US attitude towards Agent Orange more positive

QĐND – Friday, July 16, 2010, 21:20 (GMT+7)

Tran Xuan Thu, General Secretary of Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), said US attitude towards solving the AO/dioxin dilemma in Vietnam has become more positive.

Tran Xuan Thu, who is also VAVA Vice President, said at an interview with VNA on the threshold of the third hearing on Agent Orange to be held by the US House of Representatives on July 15.

The hearing session aims to consider steps to be taken to meet demand from Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims and those exposed to the toxic chemical sprayed by US troops during the war in Vietnam.

Thu told VNA that the campaign in support of Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims that has been running in all the four available channels has contributed to a shift in the US attitude towards the problem, not only in words but also in action.

The campaign, involving the Vietnamese and US governments, Vietnam-US Dialogue Group on AO/dioxin, the VAVA and progressive world forces, has helped bring about modest changes to the attitude of not only the US public but also politicians, he said.

First of all, the US side, for example, including politicians, has acknowledged and talked about AO victims more openly and no longer considers them as simply the disabled. Secondly, the US side has offered technological and financial solutions to detoxify a hotbed of dioxin in the central city of Danang.

Most recently in June, the Vietnam-US negotiation team has worked out a plan of action with a budget of some US$300 million for 10 years to prioritize healthcare for AO victims and clean up the environment.

Representing three million victims in Vietnam, VAVA expressed thanks to the negotiation team for their tireless efforts in contributing to solid solutions to this legacy in Vietnam, said the AO watchdog leader.

Thanks were expressed not only for humanitarian reasons but also in an effort to boost relations between the two countries, Thu added.

“The $300 million plan is worthy of respect at a point when Vietnam is poor and victims’ need is huge,” he said.

However, he emphasized the scheme is far from meeting what is needed for the problem in relation to human beings and the environment.

“Vietnamese AO victims are looking for the deployment of the program as soon as possible,” Thu emphasized.

Charles Bailey, Director of the Ford Foundation Special Initiative on Agent Orange/dioxin, and Susan Berresford, former Ford Foundation President, both confirmed that it was quite possible to solve the AO impact on humans and the environment in Vietnam.

However, they acknowledged the need for significant financial resources. They asked the US government to play a key role in meeting this financial demand and work with other donors to help the Vietnamese government and people address the problem.

Tom Harkin, who chairs the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, shared sympathy with AO victims on their sufferings and losses during his visit to Vietnam in early July. He also emphasized that the US should consider solving the AO problem in Vietnam because of the issue of moral responsibility of those who had caused the problem.

The AO issue was not only the pain of Vietnam but also of many families in the US , said the US senator.

Hearing sessions held by the US House of Representatives and the International People’s Tribunal of Conscience as well as the consistent support raised by progressive world forces have contributed considerably to AO victims’ struggle for justice.

Eni F. H. Faleomaveaga, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who summoned the upcoming hearing, also launched and chaired the previous two sessions in May, 2008 and June, 2009.

Unlike the previous two sessions, the upcoming hearing will include VAVA representatives and the victims themselves. They are medical doctor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, VAVA Vice President, and Tran Thi Hoan, a second generation victim, who lost two legs and one hand. The 23-year-old girl is a student of the Ho Chi Minh City Foreign Language and Information Technology University.

Thu concluded the interview by expressing wishes on behalf of three million Vietnamese AO victims that the hearing with the first-ever presence of Vietnamese AO victims would promote a US sense of responsibility towards the problem and push the US to take another step forwards in finding a solution to the problem.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND