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Panetta visits Vietnam, exchanges soldiers effects

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks to USNS Richard E. Byrd Chief Mate Fred Cullen while on a water taxi out to the ship docked at Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay on June 3, 2012. Panetta arrived from Singapore on June 3 to visit a major base used by U.S. forces in the Vietnam War, as Washington seeks to deepen ties with its former enemy to counter a more assertive posture from China. Panetta was to visit the naval cargo ship currently at the port, the USNS Richard E. Byrd, which moves cargo for the naval fleet with a mostly civilian crew.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reviews the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Defence Ministry in Hanoi June 4, 2012. Panetta is in Hanoi on a three-day visit to Vietnam from June 3 to 5.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Vietnam's Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh speaks at a joint news conference in Hanoi June 4, 2012.

 

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Vietnam's Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh looks at U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at left during their joint news conference at the Defence Ministry in Hanoi June 4, 2012. Panetta returns the gaze at right.

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Reuters reports: The Vietnamese government on Monday gave a boost to the search for missing U.S. servicemen from the Vietnam War, telling visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta they would open three previously closed sites to permit excavation for remains. 

The announcement came as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Vietnam Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh exchanged long-held artifacts collected during the war -- including letters written by a U.S. soldier who was killed that had been kept and used as propaganda, and a small maroon diary belonging to a Vietnamese soldier. A U.S. service member took the journal back to the U.S.  Full story.

Photos at right: Top: A picture is seen next to the diary which belonged to Vietnamese soldier Vu Dinh Doan, which was originally taken from Doan's body by U.S. Marine Robert Frazure following Operation Indiana in 1966, on a table at the Defence Ministry in Hanoi June 4, 2012. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presented the diary to Vietnam's Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh during a news conference at the ministry.
Bottom: The personal letters of U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty, who was killed during the Vietnam war in 1969, are seen  on a table at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hanoi June 4, 2012. Vietnam's Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh presented the letters to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a news conference at the Defence Ministry. Panetta is in Hanoi on a three-day visit to Vietnam from June 3 to 5.

More about the letters by Sgt. Flaherty

Vietnam has given U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta the personal letters of a soldier who was killed in the Vietnam war in 1969. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.