February 17, 2003
Va. Bill Promoting S.
Vietnam Flag Dies
By Justin Bergman
(Associated Press) - A bill in the Virginia legislature that promotes the
flag of the former South Vietnam died in a subcommittee after federal officials
warned lawmakers it could damage relations between the United States and
Sen. Malfourd Trumbo said Monday that the bill will not face a vote before
Monday's midnight deadline for action.
The measure sparked concern among officials in Vietnam and the State Department
after it passed the House of Delegates last month. State Department officials
urged several legislators to kill the bill.
In a Feb. 5 letter addressed to bill sponsor Del. Robert Hull, Deputy Secretary
of State Richard Armitage said the legislation could have "potentially serious
adverse consequences" on the way the United States conducts foreign policy, and
could encourage similar action by other aggrieved ethnic groups living in the
"The United States has made great strides in overcoming the aftermath of war
with Vietnam," Armitage wrote. "Passage of this legislation would set back the
progress we have made over the past decade."
On Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to Vietnamese officials
assuring them the State Department had expressed its concerns to the Virginia
Hull criticized the federal intervention.
"If the State Department had not contacted the members of the Senate, it
wouldn't have reinforced the international implications, and they wouldn't want
to shy away from it," Hull said.
The Democrat said the bill was requested by his Vietnamese-American
constituents, who find the current Vietnamese flag - a yellow star on a crimson
background - an insult.
Russian-U.S. Panel Identifies U.S. POWs
(Associated Press) - A U.S.-Russian panel on prisoners of war has found
information in Russia's military archives that could help account for 51
American pilots missing from Vietnam, a lawmaker said Monday.
The information has already helped identify seven of the pilots, said lawmaker
Nikolai Bezborodov, deputy chief of the parliamentary defense affairs committee
and co-chair of the POW panel.
"The fate of 19 more servicemen can be determined by the Americans on the basis
of the lists presented to them," Bezborodov was quoted as telling the Interfax-Military
The information documents 38 incidents involving the capture of 51 Americans. In
all, 1,889 Americans are still missing in Vietnam and nearby countries, 30 years
after the war ended.
Last week, Bezborodov complained about Russian military archives remaining
largely classified. He voiced hope that the POW search would become easier,
because the archives from the Vietnam era are to be declassified this year.
The commission also studied reports and notes on Soviet military aid to Vietnam
and combat reports about Vietnamese air defense and air force operations,
The panel has found information about five cases of Soviet intelligence offices
questioning American POWs in Vietnam, but no evidence has been found that any
Americans were transferred to the Soviet Union.
The U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on POWs and soldiers missing in action was set
up in 1992. The main focus has been on the Korean War, but the commission also
is looking at the Vietnam War and investigating the fate of Soviet troops
missing in Afghanistan.