ACCESSION NUMBER:249880 FILE ID:EPF112 DATE:10/26/92 TITLE:SENATOR SMITH REACTS TO BUSH MEETING ON POWs (10/26/92) TEXT:*92102612.EPF *EPF112 10/26/92 * SENATOR SMITH REACTS TO BUSH MEETING ON POWs (Calls it just "tip of the iceberg") (560) Washington -- Senator Bob Smith (Republican of New Hampshire), the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, attended the meeting called by President Bush at the White House at the end of the week to discuss recent information the Vietnamese have provided and afterwards called it "the tip of the iceberg." The senator observed that while a recent delegation led by General John Vessey (USA, Retired), the president's special envoy for POW/MIA affairs, recently returned from Hanoi with thousands of photos of soldiers captured during the war, the Vietnamese have "promised to make available additional information concerning POWs and MIAs taken into captivity during the Vietnam War." Although after the White House meeting Smith, like Bush, called Vietnam's commitment "a breakthrough," the senator's office said "he hopes Vietnam will continue to provide material and technical information they possess regarding Americans seen alive in Vietnam and Laos after the end of the war" which was waged for over 10 years in the three countries of Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). "This represents a significant step in accounting for missing men who have died," Smith said. "It is a breakthrough because the Vietnamese now admit they have had this information -- something we have known but they would never acknowledge. "Vietnam realizes that in order to get any recognition from the United States, they must cooperate in resolving the POW/MIA issue. We are not looking for punishment or recrimination, we are looking for answers," Smith said. The New Hampshire senator is a highly-decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. "There is no information in this group of materials on live Americans," Smith said. "The Vietnamese have been forthcoming on the issue of remains but the key now is to parlay that into cooperation on the issue of POWs 1nown to be alive after the war and who may still be alive in either that country or neighboring Laos." Smith said he hopes, "as the president stated, that this is 'the beginning, not the end' of Vietnam telling us what they know about the fate of our missing military service personnel. "This is the tip of the iceberg," Smith said. "As General Vessey stated, the Vietnamese told him that this is merely 'symbolic' of what is available in their archives. Although they have provided these records, we know -- and they admit -- they have more. "In hearings before the Select Committee, significant intelligence was released and former Administration officials testified that there were 'lists and other data indicating live men may have been left behind after the war," Smith said. "We intend to pursue this to the fullest extent and hope that the Vietnamese will share the information they have on live POWs." Smith said he "looks forward to working with the Vietnamese to resolve this issue." Smith, Senator Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts), another decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War who is chairman of the committee, and other members of the panel (most of whom are also combat veterans of the war), plan to return to Southeast Asia in mid-November to follow up on this new information just provided and on live-sighting information they have learned of during their hearings over the past year. NNNN .