The meeting between Vietnamese Minister of National Defence Ngo Xuan Lich (R) and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis in Ho Chi Minh City on October 17 (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – General Ngo Xuan Lich, Minister of National Defence, received his US counterpart James Mattis in Ho Chi Minh City on October 17.

At the meeting, Lich applauded the US’s cooperation in dioxin decontamination in Vietnam over the past time, stressing that Vietnam will focus on overcoming war consequences, including the detoxification of dioxin contaminated areas, especially at Bien Hoa airport in the southern province of Dong Nai.

He proposed the US side actively collaborate with Vietnam in the coming time to soon implement and complete a project on dioxin treatment at Bien Hoa airport in order to clean up contaminated land, contributing to fostering economic development in Vietnam.

For his part, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis affirmed his commitment to enhancing bilateral defence cooperation, particularly in maritime security, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, peacekeeping missions and overcoming war consequences.

He added the outcome of this visit will lay a foundation for the US Government and Congress to continue supporting Vietnam in surmounting the post-war consequences related to dioxin.

Earlier, the US Secretary of Defence visited the dioxin treatment area in Bien Hoa airport, where the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Steering Committee 701) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are jointly implementing a project on dioxin remediation.

Bien Hoa airport is considered as one of the dioxin hot spots in the country with about 500,000 cubic metres of dioxin contaminated land. Since 2010, the Government has assigned the Ministry of National Defence to direct the implementation of many dioxin treatment projects at the airport, including the construction of infrastructure to address dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa airport.

The 270 billion VND (11.8 million USD) project kicked off on September 16, 2017, focusing on disarming war-time mines and bombs, building roads, zoning off dioxin contaminated areas and removing organisations and military works from the new detected squalid regions.

On May 11, 2018, USAID and the Air Defence – Air Force Service under the Vietnamese Defence Ministry signed an agreement on non-refundable aid for environmental remediation for dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa airport. The project, estimated to cost 390 million USD, will complete within 10 years.-VNA