Apparently the UK with US$2 Bn. invested in 110 projects ranks 15th among foreign investors in Vietnam. With typical spin the UK Embassy points out that the UK is " the third-largest European investor in Vietnam"
Jolly , hard working, back slapping helicopter pilot His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, The Duke of York landed in Hanoi for a 5 day trip (his 3rd , he went there in 1999 and 2006) to celebrate 35 years of diplomatic ties. Diplomatic ties were cut off by an inconvenient war from which the UK escaped involvement ,by wily Harold Wilson . HMQ re-established diplomatic relations on Sept. 11, 1973, shortly before the end of the conflict. Jack Straw was also expected today (but preferred Birmingham) and the Vietnamese can hardly control their excitment for a forthcoming visit by Gordon Brown.
The prince had talks , accompanied by HM's man in Hanoi Mark Kent , with Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem today and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday but he had to make do with the Deputy Prime Minister today according to Reuters.
He also handed out prizes in a photo essay competition launched by the British Embassy in Hanoi and the BBC Vietnamese service , “Young Vietnamese in UK – Self Confident in People-to-People Link” won by Nguyen Manh Quan .
This reflects HMQ's interest in the brightest and best Vietnamese students. London and Southampton universities, are to open branches in Vietnam.
The UK has become one of the leading destinations for Vietnamese students. According to the UK Ambassador, by the end of July, the Embassy had granted 400 visas for students, up 77% year on year and forecasts that the number of Vietnamese students arriving in the UK will rise in the future, specially those seeking master and doctoral degrees.
The Chevening Scholarship Programme, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, offers scholarships for young professionals from Vietnam to take a postgraduate course in the UK.
Third year of talks on Agent Orange
In the Vietnam war the Us forces poured immeasurable amounts of the defoliant "Agent Orange" from the air to espose the Viet Cong supply routes. The consequence was,this acted not only as a neurotoxin but also caused dreadfuland irreversible liver damage not only to the Vietnamese but the troops who handled the stuff.
The 3rd annual round of talks about the environmental effects of Agent Orange,also opened today. They are expected to announce plans for using US$3 million the U.S. Congress set aside in 2007 for the cleanup of dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange. (Cost of the war to US here) Some has already been set aside to help people with disabilities in Danang, the site of a former U.S. air base (at one time the largest airport in the world) and an Agent Orange hotspot.The Vietnames say they don't have enough funds and that cleaning up the Danang site alone will cost at least US$14 million.
No Vietnamese citizens have received compensation, and on March 10, 2006, Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies which produced the defoliants and herbicides.
A joint study in Danang found dioxin levels were 300 to 400 times higher than internationally accepted limits. (AP)
Vietnam believes as many as 4 million people have suffered serious health problems associated with Agent Orange. The U.S. says the actual number is probably far lower and that further scientific study is needed to understand the link between Agent Orange and health. The Vietnamese Government says there are more than 4 million Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, including children of the second and third generations.
The Pentagon’s final estimate of civilian casualties for the South, a nation of about 18 million in 1972, was as high as 1,225,000 for the period between 1965 and 1972. A U.S. Senate subcommittee report estimated 1,350,000 civilian casualties, including 415,000 killed, for the same period.
The U.S. argues that it has spent more than US$40 million since 1989 to help Vietnamese with disabilities, regardless of their causes. Of course many US servicemen were exposed and Dave Bieckel a friend of Lord Patel's, died in 2005 from kidney problems directly resulting from the effects of Agent Orange - US Vets obtained a US$180 million settlement in 1984, with most affected veterans receiving a one-time lump sum payment of US$1,200. (Say US$5,000 in 2008 money)
The chemical triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA - later called Agent Orange) was studied by Arthur Galston as a plant growth hormone. He wrote a standard textbook on Plant Physiology (used by Lord Patel as a student) and he campaigned against it's use was the father of a friend of one of Lord Patel's family.
Galston showed the birth defects in rats caused by TIBA and to his credit led to Nixon banning use of the substance. He died on June 15th aged 88.
Galston is reported to have said..."“You know, nothing that you do in science is guaranteed to result in benefits for mankind. Any discovery, I believe, is morally neutral and it can be turned either to constructive ends or destructive ends.”
"Look at me -- I was a botanist," said Galston. "I inadvertently found something which, further developed, was used as an instrument of war."
Prince Andrew probably didn't talk about Agent Orange whilst in Vietnam, probably gave the old Dalat Palace Golf course a good spanking however.