Remarks by the President at Demining Event (11/18/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Hanoi, Vietnam)
For Immediate Release                              November 18, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             AT DEMINING EVENT

                        International Trade Center
                              Hanoi, Vietnam

6:50 P.M. (L)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Ambassador Peterson, Ambassador Le Bang, Mr. Khoan; my
good friend, Representative Snyder and the other members of Congress and
our American delegation.  I want to say most of all how much I appreciate
the work that all of you who are engaged in demining are doing.

     I thank the Vietnamese people who are doing this, the members of the
NGOs.  And I'd also like to especially thank the American veterans who have
been involved in this endeavor.

     The problem of land mines is a global tragedy, and 90 percent of the
victims of war are civilians, mostly because of land mines.  In all
probability, land mines kill more children than soldiers, and they keep
killing long after wars are over.  This is the tragedy of war for which
peace provides no answer.

     Vietnam has about 3.5 million mines in its soil and about 300,000 tons
of unexploded ordnance.  Each year, some 2,000 Vietnamese are killed or
injured as they go about their daily lives.  This year, at Vietnam's
request, we began providing assistance to the humanitarian demining
efforts.  Since June, we provided over $3 million to purchase equipment and
help survey the countryside.

     I am happy to announce that we will also be working with Vietnam to
develop a computer system and a database to help pinpoint the location of
mines and ordnance used here during the war.  We have also worked for some
years with NGOs such as the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation to fund
rehabilitation services for victims of land mines, an effort that owes so
much to the leadership of Senator Pat Leahy.  Today, our Defense Department
is donating more than $700,000 in hospital supplies to Quang Tri Province
for the same purpose.

     Finally, we support efforts by organizations such as Peace Trees and
Catholic Relief Services to educate local communities on how to avoid land
mines.  The children's paintings we saw over here are part of that effort,
and again I'd like to thank those four beautiful young boys for being here
and for having the courage to help all the rest of us deal with this
problem.  (Applause.)

     Since I became President, the United States has spent about $350
million around the world to pull the hidden killers out of the earth, the
land mines, to deal with the unexploded ordnance.  We usually spend
slightly more than half of all the money spent in the world on this every
year.  But I think we should do more.
     I am thankful for all the work the organizations are doing here.  I am
grateful for the request that the government of Vietnam gave, that gave us
the opportunity to be involved here.  But I hope we will all remember these
children who had the courage to come here and share their art work and who
want to give the rest of the children of Vietnam and the world a better

     There are millions of these bombs in the ground in Africa, millions
more in the Balkans.  They are the curse of innocent children all over the
world.  I hope that tomorrow all over the world, people will see these
children and their drawings and it will enable us to get even more support
for the work you were doing in Vietnam and the work that must be done like
this in other countries.  You will have America's support until you have
found every land mine and every piece of unexploded ordnance.  (Applause.)

     Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

     END  7:00 P.M. (L)

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E