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Pentagon:  Vietnam to Open Secret Files on the War - 2003-09-23

Pentagon officials say Vietnam has agreed to give the United States some access to top secret files in an effort to gather information about Americans who may have been held captive after the Vietnam War.

Officials here at the Pentagon say Hanoi has agreed in principle to a highly unusual arrangement to hire retired senior intelligence officers to search through classified Vietnamese government files.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jerry Jennings says details need to be worked out.

He says the retired Vietnamese officials would submit regular summaries of their findings, but the actual documents will not be turned over to the United States.

The Pentagon says nearly 1,900 Americans are still not accounted for from the Vietnam War.

The soldiers are not listed as prisoners of war, but there have been reports that some Americans remained in Vietnam after the conflict ended.

Officials in Hanoi have always insisted that no Americans were held after the war.

Mr. Jennings says an arrangement like the one with the Vietnamese might also work in Russia, where U.S. officials have been stymied for years in trying to gain access to sensitive intelligence files of the former Soviet Union.