Private U.S. organizations are being encouraged by the State Department to provide humanitarian assistance to Vietnam, a department spokesman said yesterday.
But the spokesman, Rudi Boone, said the call for assistance is not tied to U.S. efforts to persuade Vietnam to account for missing American servicemen.
"We have not linked it directly to MIAs," Boone said.
In August, a U.S. delegation led by retired general John W. Vessey Jr. visited Vietnam, seeking increased Vietnamese cooperation in accounting for the 1,776 Americans listed as missing in action from the war in Vietnam.
The two countries agreed then that the United States would address certain Vietnamese humanitarian issues. Under the plan, the U.S. government was to "facilitate the efforts of nongovernment organizations to deal with Vietnamese humanitarian concerns."
Since then, a team of U.S. disability and prosthetics experts has met twice with their Vietnamese counterparts in Hanoi, State Department spokeswoman Phyllis E. Oakley said last week. A third visit is scheduled Jan. 15-18, she said.
Oakley said that as a result of the team's efforts, the U.S. government published a report on the rehabilitation of Vietnam's 60,000 amputees, most of them war victims, and distributed it to "the nongovernmental organization community."
Seven of those private organizations sent representatives to Vietnam for a week-long visit that ended Dec. 21, she said.
The United States and Vietnam have no diplomatic ties, and the administration has said it will not consider aid while Vietnam occupies Cambodia.