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Published on Concord Monitor (http://www.concordmonitor.com)
Thomas Kerins, Contoocook
In his letter, “What Clinton ignored in Laos,” (Monitor, July 21) Merrill Vaughan criticizes the secretary of state for visiting an exhibit of cluster bombs, while failing to discuss the question of American servicemen still missing in Laos. He writes: “I guess since she demonstrated against the war, she does not realize there are 318 Americans still listed as Missing in Action in Laos alone.”
In fact MIA were discussed during the visit.
The joint Lao-U.S. communique on the visit states that the two sides “agreed to improve and further facilitate the accounting operations for American personnel still missing from the Indochina War era.”
With respect to the exhibit, between 1964 and 1973 U.S. forces dropped an immense tonnage of bombs over Laos. About 30 percent of cluster bombs dropped did not explode. Since the bombing ended, some 20,000 people, about 40 percent of them children, have been killed or maimed by accidental detonation of unexploded cluster bombs.
Hillary Clinton’s support of increased funding for cleanup efforts, her empathy for others who have incurred war-related losses, and her willingness to go to Laos, the first official visit by any U.S. secretary of state in 57 years, are likely to enhance rather than hinder U.S. efforts to achieve a final accounting of American remains and to provide some kind of closure for those families who have been waiting for 40 years or more to put loved ones to rest.