Vietnam to allow Australians limited access to commemorate battle

HANOI, Vietnam, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Vietnam will allow Australians to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a bloody battle of the Vietnam War.

The Vietnamese and Australian governments have been in negotiation for more than a year to grant Australian Vietnam War veterans and their families access to the site of the battle of Long Tan, where 18 Australians and hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers were killed on August 18, 1966.

The government is granting only limited access to the site, after earlier this week canceling a larger ceremony that included a dinner and concert. The Australian Consulate has promised they would hold a “low-key event.”

Though more than 1,000 Australians have arrived to commemorate the battle, only 100 will be allowed to go to the actual site. A wreath laying away from the site will be attended by hundreds more, but visitors will not be allowed to wear their uniforms or medals, and they won’t be allowed to make any speeches.

“We understand there are still sensitivities in Vietnam, so over the last 18 months, we have said that we would respect how they would like us to commemorate,” said Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan. “We are very grateful for the Vietnamese change of mind on this.”

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