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US assists Vietnam toxic clean-up

Vietnam is to start working with former enemy the United States to clean up environmental damage left over from the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, a lasting legacy from the Vietnam War.

The work concentrates on a former US military base in central Vietnam where the herbicide was stored during the war that ended more than three decades ago.

It marks the first time the two sides will work together on the ground to clean up contamination.

A statement by the US Embassy in Hanoi said Vietnam's Ministry of Defence will begin sweeping areas around the Danang airport for unexploded bombs.

It will then work with the US Agency for International Development to remove dioxin from soil and sediment at the site, which is expected to begin early next year.

US aircraft sprayed millions of gallons (litres) of the chemical over South Vietnam during the war to destroy guerilla fighters' jungle cover.

Contamination from dioxin - a chemical used in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers and birth defects - has remained a thorny topic between the former foes.

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