Secretary of State George P. Shultz said yesterday that the Reagan administration will give asylum to as many as 10,000 political prisoners in Vietnamese reeducation camps over the next two years if Hanoi will let them go.
Shultz also said the United States would accept over the next three years all Asian-American children -- Vietnamese children fathered by American servicemen -- remaining in Vietnam as well as their qualifying family members, generally mothers or half brothers or sisters.
"Current and former political prisoners are of particular humanitarian concern to the United States," Shultz said in prepared testimony before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on refugees and immigration.
The political prisoners, many of whom worked for the United States or had other ties to the United States during the Vietnam war, have been an issue between the United States and Vietnam and in the past two years the focus of increasing concern among refugee groups and members of Congress.
The plan outlined by Shultz yesterday was presented as part of the administration's overall request to set a ceiling of 70,000 refugees to be admitted from around the world for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. That figure is slightly less than the 72,000 ceiling set for the current fiscal year.
Of the 70,000, up to 50,000 could be from Indochina, slightly less than the current ceiling of 52,000. But unlike previous years, part of the 50,000 quota would be set aside as a separate category for the Amerasian children and political prisoners.
The plan is the first substantive response by Washington to test the sincerity of Hanoi's offers, made as early as 1982, to release the prisoners, believed by refugee experts to number between 6,000 and 15,000.
In the past, the United States has failed to specify a number for the political prisoners it would accept. It has set as conditions visits by representatives of the International Committee for the Red Cross to the reeducation camps and the provision of lists of those prisoners eligible for resettlement.
Shultz said the success of the proposals for the prisoners and the Amerasian children will require the goodwill and cooperation of the Vietnamese government. The proposals will be discussed, he said, with Vietnamese officials next month in Geneva at the annual meeting of the executive committee of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.
The commissioner, Poul Hartling, also was expected to discuss the U.S. proposals with Vietnamese authorities during his four-day visit to Hanoi, which ended today. Depending on Hanoi's reaction, it is also possible that the proposals would be discussed when Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Cao Thach goes to New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly later this month, administration officials said.
Despite two years of efforts to arrange for the release of the political prisoners, only about 100 have been freed, an administration official said.