A National Security Council official is flying to Hanoi today for talks with the Vietnamese government about accelerating cooperation on the issue of Americans missing in action from the Vietnam war.
The State Department announced that the three-day mission of Richard Childress follows recent Vietnamese statements at the United Nations and elsewhere that indicate willingness to cooperate further regarding the main issue between the two countries since the war, which ended 10 years ago this April.
Childress will be accompanied by Ann Mills Griffiths, executive director of the National League of Families, the main organization of family members of Americans still listed as missing.
"The primary purpose is the POW-MIA issue," State Department spokesman Kathleen Lang said. She added that other bilateral questions will be discussed, including the U.S. offer to resettle inmates of Vietnamese "re-education camps" in the United States. Secretary of State George P. Shultz last year announced U.S. willingness to accept Vietnamese languishing in the prison camps, but discussions with Hanoi on the issue have been unproductive.
Childress will also reiterate the U.S. damand for the release of William Mathers, an American yachtsman seized by Vietnam last July while sailing near Vietnamese waters. A congressional delegation headed by Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) in a visit to Hanoi last December reportedly was given hope that Mathers might be released.