The United States and Vietnam have agreed to hold talks in Hanoi Aug. 1-3 on the fate of missing American servicemen, the White House announced yesterday.
Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will head the U.S. delegation as a presidential emissary.
The two sides agreed that the talks will be confined to "humanitarian issues" and not linked to political problems, including Hanoi's quest for U.S. diplomatic recognition, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.
He said the United States looks forward to "fruitful discussions."
Vessey's mission was delayed for several months in a dispute with Vietnam over the timing and the agenda. State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman accused Hanoi last April of backsliding on an agreement to deal separately with the issue of missing servicemen.
Secretary of State George P. Shultz, in a speech July 18 to the National League of POWMIA Families, said Vietnam apparently was "raising the concept of humanitarian cooperation as a 'two-way street,' including economic assistance."
Vietnam has made no secret of its desire to establish relations with the United States, which fought a long and futile war to keep the communists from gaining control of the southern part of the Southeast Asian country.
The war ended in June 1975 with more than 1,700 Americans listed as missing in action. There have been frequent reports since then of prisoners of war still being held.
Vietnam said two years ago that it would clear up the issue of missing Americans within two years.
Also on Vessey's agenda is a resumption of the processing of Vietnamese immigrants by U.S. officials who would be sent to Hanoi.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate will vote Tuesday on a resolution, introduced yesterday by Sen. John S. McCain III (R-Ariz.), urging the Vietnamese "to respond positively" to negotiations with the United States over the MIAs issue.
A similar resolution was introduced in the House Thursday.