Remarks insensitive and inappropriate
At a time of grief and loss following the tragic deaths of nine Vietnamese and seven Americans in the helicopter crash in Quang Binh Province on April 7, I wish to express my deep regret and my apologies to friends in the community for my comments which were published in the report headlined 'Deaths put priorities of US spending into stark focus' (South China Morning Post, April 9).
At a time of such pain and sorrow, my remarks questioning US priorities in Vietnam, were inappropriate and insensitive, and I am sorry. For more than six years I have known Americans and Vietnamese engaged in the search for remains of those missing in action from the war.
They are dedicated and professional in a mission that is difficult and dangerous, and I have great respect for their commitment. I did not intend to do or say anything that diminished the service and the sacrifice of the men and women at the Joint Taskforce for Full Accounting (of US servicemen missing in action), or the Vietnamese who have contributed to the search for the missing servicemen, or the genuine loss of families who still have not had remains returned to them.
My condolences and deep sympathy to families and friends, both Americans and Vietnamese, and my deep apologies for my insensitive comments at a time of loss and remembrance.