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WASHINGTON - Thirty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, a joint United States-Vietnamese panel endorsed a 10-year, US$300 million "plan of action" to deal with the deadly health and environmental legacy of the US military's widespread use of Agent Orange during the conflict.
The US government, according to the panel, which included policymakers, citizens and scientists, should provide most of the assistance, which would be designed both to clean up more than two dozen sites in southern Vietnam where contamination was particularly severe and to expand health and related care to people affected by Agent Orange and other dioxin-based herbicides.
"We are talking about something that is a major legacy of the Vietnam War and a major irritant in this important relationship," said Walter Isaacson, co-chair of the bi-national group and president of the Aspen Institute, which released the plan of action.
"The cleanup of our mess from the Vietnam War will be far less costly than the Gulf oil spill that BP will have to clean up [in the Gulf of Mexico]," he added.