US Presidential Elections: Vietnam to give US access to war files

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON (AP) - George Bush said yesterday the Vietnamese government had agreed for the first time to make available 'all information' on American prisoners of war and those missing in action, including photographs, artefacts and military documents.

This follows the discovery by United States officials at the weekend of a secret cache of Vietnamese-made photographs containing pictures of the remains of Americans who died in action or were captured during the Vietnam war.

Mr Bush's envoy to Hanoi - a retired general, John Vessey - said that the more than 4,000 photographs and other material already in US possession represents a small sample of what will be made available. 'The important thing is not the material we brought back. The important thing is the material we expect to get,' he said.

Mr Bush called the development 'significant, a real breakthrough'. He said he was taking the first steps towards establishing normal relations with Hanoi. This will include 'modest disaster assistance' for flood relief, helping Vietnam account for its missing soldiers and medical aid for Vietnamese military veterans.

'Today, finally, I am convinced that we can begin writing the last chapter of the Vietnam war,' Mr Bush said in an announcement after being briefed by Gen Vessey and other members of a US delegation that returned on Tuesday from the visit to Vietnam.