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US Defense Secretary commits to defense cooperation, clean-up of Agent Orange

Update: October, 18/2018 - 09:00
Defence Minister Ngô Xuân Lịch and the US Defence Secretary James Mattis. — Photo MoD
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Defence Minister Ngô Xuân Lịch has asked the US to continue to support Việt Nam in combating the consequences of the war, especially the clean-up of Agent Orange at the Biên Hoà airbase.

The request was made during a two-day visit of US Defence Secretary James Mattis, which ended on October 17. 

About 25km north of HCM City, the Biên Hòa airbase is the site of a US-sponsored cleanup of the herbicide used by the US during the war, which is blamed for birth defects and cancer among many Vietnamese.

The airbase has about 500,000cu.m of contaminated soil. 

Under a 10-year remediation effort led by USAID, work is set to start next year on cleaning up the site.

In 2010, the Government assigned the Ministry of Defence to direct implementation of many dioxin treatment projects at the airbase. 

Of these, the project to build infrastructure for dioxin pre-treatment at the airbase kicked off in September. It has a total investment of VNĐ270 billion (US$11.58 million). 

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said he was committed to strengthening bilateral defence in maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping operations and the remediation of the consequences of war. 

Mattis said that the results of the visit would form the basis for reporting to the US Government and Congress on continued support for Việt Nam to overcome the post-war consequences of dioxin.

The Defence Secretary also met with HCM City Party Committee Secretary Nguyễn Thiện Nhân during his visit.

Nhân said import-export value between HCM City and the US last year reached $8.2 billion, with the US continuing to be HCM City’s largest export market, and the fourth largest import market. 

Mattis said the Việt Nam-US Comprehensive Partnership would benefit both sides, contributing to peace and stability in the region. 

The visit symbolises closer ties between the two countries.

Mattis will then head to Singapore to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers’ Meeting, scheduled for October 18 and tomorrow. — VNS

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