US official visits '17 parallel north' province, promising 10 mln for UXO

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-3-2 22:55:18

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security of the United States Rose Gottemoeller on Monday paid a visit to Vietnam's central Quang Tri province where the "17th parallel north" divided Vietnam into two zones during 1954-1975 war time to observe US-funded efforts to survey and clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) of war.

Quang Tri, some 480 km south of capital Hanoi, has been the first locality in the country implementing a pilot program of international cooperation on humanitarian demining allowed by Vietnamese government, according to state-run radio Voice of Vietnam (VOV). During war time, Quang Tri was among the most-hit localities by bombs.

Speaking at a meeting with Quang Tri authorities on Monday, Gottermoeller said her visit to the locality has affirmed the US State Department's determination to deal with the war's aftermath in Vietnam in general and in Quang Tri in particular.

Quang Tri leaders, for their part, asked the US State Department to continue funding programs for landmine clearance and assisting UXO victims.

The US State Department has so far funded Vietnam to a total of 80 million US dollars for programs to survey and clear UXO. The department will continue to give Vietnam 10 million US dollars in 2015 for the programs, with 8 million US dollars of that pouring into Quang Tri, said VOV.

It is estimated that around 10 percent of over 15 million tons of ordnance used during war time in Vietnam failed to detonate.

According to VOV, after 20 years of cooperation between Vietnamese government and international organizations on UXO clearance, Quang Tri has demined over 556,000 UXOs, clearing some 8,400 hectares of land.

The 1954 Geneva Accord led to the termination of French colonial rule in Indochina. However, it temporarily divided Vietnam into two zones along the 17th parallel, a northern zone governed by the communist party-ruled then Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam), and a southern zone.

Gottemoeller is paying a visit in Vietnam during March 1-3. On Tuesday, she will travel to capital Hanoi to discuss the US- Vietnam bilateral relationship during the 20th anniversary of normalized relations, as well as regional security, security cooperation, among others.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific, Americas

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