U.S. Sen. Al Franken is headed to Vietnam next week with Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), his office announced Wednesday.
The stated purpose: To support ongoing economic cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam, and to look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities.
The delegation also will meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues, and trade relations.
Franken will also make a side trip to neighboring Laos. More details to follow, his aides say.
Since January, Franken has been working with the U.S. State Department regarding the forced repatriation of over 4000 Hmong asylum seekers from Thailand to Laos. He has called for unimpeded access for U.S. officials and international humanitarian organizations to the Hmong returnees.
Last year, fellow Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar visited Vietnam with Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was famously held captive in Hanoi after his fighter jet was shot down in the Vietnam War.
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