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The BBC's Matt Frei, in Hanoi
"President Clinton honoured those who fought in Vietnam: and never came home"
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US Senator John Kerry
"The amount we commit to world efforts is frankly inadequate"
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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 19:54 GMT
Clinton's promise on Vietnam 'heroes'
Bill Clinton is presented with flowers as he arrives in Ho Chi Minh City, foremrly Saigon
Bill Clinton is presented with flowers as he arrives in Ho Chi Minh City, foremrly Saigon
President Clinton pledged to "bring every possible fallen hero home" as he visited a site near Hanoi where an American bomber plane crashed during the Vietnam war.

Later at a visit to an exhibition of land mine victims, he said that the USA would do more to make the country safe from mines and unexploded bombs.


You will have American support until you have found every landmine and every piece of unexploded ordnance

President Clinton

And Mr Clinton ended the second day of his visit in Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon, the capital of the American-backed regime which fell to Communist forces in 1975.

He was greeted by huge crowds outside the old presidential palace, where North Vietnamese tanks arrived 25 years ago to seal the defeat of the US forces.

Excavations

In the morning, Mr Clinton saw excavations going on to find the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Evert, who crashed in 1967 while on a mission to destroy a railway bridge.

Washington spends $100m a year on finding out what happened to the 1,498 American servicemen who went missing during the war.

As well as the president, the pilot's two sons were visiting the site, one of six presently being excavated for US servicemen's remains.

clinton
Mr Clinton with excavated remains of the plane

So far the excavation has yielded some parts of Colonel Evert's plane, but no confirmed human remains.

Mr Clinton, struggling to hold back tears, said: "Whether we are American or Vietnamese, I think we all want to know where our loved ones are buried.

"I think we all want to be able to honour them and be able to visit their gravesite."

Land mines

Mr Clinton also visited an exhibition on land mine victims, where he said that the USA would do more to clear the land of mines and make it safe.

Old mines from Vietnam War
Old mines continue to kill 25 years on
"You will have American support until you have found every landmine and every piece of unexploded ordnance," he told mine clearing specialists.

As part of its efforts to normalise relations with Vietnam, Washington has been helping efforts to remove the 3.5 million land mines and 300 tonnes of unexploded bombs still in Vietnamese soil.

Two thousand Vietnamese a year, an average of six per day, are killed by the bombs.

But with just two more months in office Mr Clinton lacks the authority to commit further funds to mine clearance.

Tribute to dead

In an unprecedented live broadcast on Vietnamese television on Friday, Mr Clinton paid tribute to the dead on both sides of the Vietnam War.

Mr Clinton - the first US president to visit Vietnam since the war ended - said the two countries could open a "new chapter" in their relationship and suggested the communist leadership should allow its people greater freedom.

War and peace
1964: US backs south as Vietnam war starts
1975: Humiliation as US troops pull out of Saigon
1995: Diplomatic relations restored
March 2000: US Defence Secretary, William Cohen visits Vietnam
November 2000: President Clinton in Hanoi

He told students at Hanoi University that the war, in which 58,000 Americans and an estimated three million Vietnamese were killed, had imposed a "staggering sacrifice" on Vietnam.

"We cannot do anything about the past but what we can do is change the future," he said.

Mr Clinton, who as a young man opposed the conflict, wants his visit to further the process of reconciliation and cement a new era of trade-led relations.

Since entering office in 1993, he has lifted the economic embargo on Vietnam and restored diplomatic relations.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Clinton's Vietnam visit
17 Nov 00 | Media reports
Vietnam looks beyond war
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