ACCESSION NUMBER:375854 FILE ID:EPF209 DATE:01/24/95 TITLE:CONGRESS REQUESTS REVIEW OF VIETNAM POW/MIA INFORMATION (01/24/95) TEXT:*EPF209 01/24/95 1ONGRESS REQUESTS REVIEW OF VIETNAM POW/MIA INFORMATION (Text: 1/24 letter to the president from Congress) (790) Washington -- President Clinton received a letter from Congress January 24 requesting that he not open diplomatic liaison offices with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam without first giving Congress the opportunity to review information on POWs and MIAs. The letter, which was written by Senator Bob Smith (Republican of New Hampshire) and co-signed by the chairmen of nine congressional committees and subcommittees, says Congress is concerned about Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord's January 12 announcement that "U.S. and SRV diplomation liaison offices in Hanoi and Washington would be opened 'within a few weeks.'" The letter also mentions that the Vietnamese officials have refused, as recently as last October, to further discuss U.S. concerns about relevant documents from Russian archives and also have continued to withhold key politburo and Ministry of Defense records in Hanoi. The text of the letter follows: (begin text) January 24, 1995 The Honorable William J. Clinton President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President: We are writing to request that you not open diplomatic liaison offices with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) without first giving the Congress the opportunity to review the information on POWs and MIAs required within 45 days under Section 1034 of Public Law 103-337. As you know, the Secretary of Defense is required under Section 1034 to provide us with a complete listing by name of all missing and otherwise unaccounted for U.S. personnel about whom it is possible that Vietnamese and Laotian officials can produce additional information or remains. This information was required by November 17, 1994. However, the Department of Defense subsequently requested an extension to February 17, 1995 to which we did not object. We now understand that there is a possibility the Department of Defense may not fully comply with this requirement by February 17th. We are, therefore, concerned with Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord's announcement on January 12, 1995 that U.S. and SRV diplomation liaison offices in Hanoi and Washington would be opened "within a few weeks." While we are aware that an agreement on this matter was initiated in December between Vietnam and the United States, we trust that you will not allow this agreement to take effect without first fulfilling the straightforward requirement contained in Section 1034 of Public Law 103-337. We wish to emphasize that we would be extremely concerned if any level of diplomatic relations was established with Vietnam before the 104th Congress has had the opportunity to review the information required under Section 1034. During the Congressional debate on lifting the trade embargo against Vietnam last year, there was sharp division on whether Vietnamese officials are being fully forthcoming on the POW/MIA issue (a 14 vote difference in the House on the Snowe amendment, and a 16 vote difference in the Senate on the Dole/Smith amendment). Since that time, we understand that Vietnamese officials have refused, as recently as last October, to further discuss U.S. concerns about relevant documents from Russian archives. We further understand that they have continued to withhold key politburo and Ministry of Defense records in Hanoi. Finally, we have been made aware that a detailed account of POW/MIA 1nformation being withheld by Vietnamese officials was recently disclosed to the press by a former DIA contract agent. Given these revelations, we believe most members of the new 104th Congress would be concerned about the level of cooperation we are receiving from Vietnamese officials. We also believe that these disclosures, and the apparent Vietnamese unwillingness to provide key information, underscores the need for your Administration to fully comply with Section 1034 of Public Law 103-337 before proceeding on the diplomatic front with Vietnam. We thank you for your assistance on this matter. Sincerely, (SIGNED) (SIGNED) BOB SMITH, USS JESSE HELMS, USS Member, Committee on Chairman, Committee on Armed Services Foreign Relations (SIGNED) (SIGNED) STROM THURMOND, USS ARLEN SPECTER, USS Chairman, Committee on Chairman, Select Committee Armed Services on Intelligence (SIGNED) (SIGNED) CRAIG THOMAS, USS OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, USS Chairman, Subcommittee on Chairman, Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs Internatinoal Operations (SIGNED) (SIGNED) BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, MC DOUG BEREUTER, MC Chairman, Committee on Chairman, International International Relations Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific (SIGNED) ROBERT K. DORNAN Chairman, National Security Subcommittee on Military Personnel (end text) NNNN .