UK to send minister to Hanoi

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 1996, 12:00am

MR MAJOR said Britain would soon be sending a minister to Hanoi to help speed the repatriation of boat people.

He told legislators Britain, Hong Kong and Vietnam all shared responsibility for solving the problem.

He had spoken to Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet in Bangkok on the subject.

'The objective would be to deal with the problem entirely before the end of June 1997.

'That is the objective. Satisfying that objective is not wholly in British hands but that is the objective that I seek,' he said.

He said he had promised Mr Kiet that British officials would be immediately sent to Vietnam to discuss how they might accelerate the programme of repatriating boat people.

'The reason I am sending officials first is that I shall be sending a Foreign Office minister to Vietnam in April.

'I want the ground-clearing work done in advance so that we may deal compassionately, sensitively, but speedily and comprehensively with the problem of the non-refugees who are still here in Hong Kong,' he said.

Liberal Party Legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee was delighted by the news.

'The offer of sending ministers to Vietnam to work out details is a move to hurry up the Vietnamese Government to do something,' she said.

Miss Chow added she hoped the action would eventually speed up the progress.