Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Release of Robert Schwab III by Vietnam

Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Release of Robert Schwab III by Vietnam

August 14, 1986

An American citizen who has been missing since the spring of 1985 has been released by Vietnamese authorities to Richard Childress, Director of Asian Affairs, NSC [National Security Council], in Ho Chi Minh City and returned to the United States. He is Mr. Robert Schwab III, of Atlanta, GA. On April 19, 1985, Robert Schwab set sail from the Philippines in a small sailboat alone to go to Vietnam, apparently to bring back a female Vietnamese friend. In June we learned from his family that Mr. Schwab was missing. Normal search and rescue efforts were fruitless, as were inquiries to governments in the region by the Department of State.

Given the President's strong interest in all missing Americans, Mr. Childress was directed to pursue this case with high-level Vietnamese officials both in Hanoi and New York and other initiatives as necessary. He has been working closely with Mr. Schwab's family and also sought the help of private voluntary agencies. Mr. Childress first raised the President's interest with the Vietnamese in July 1985, followed by other meetings. In late May 1986 Mr. Childress was informed by the Vietnamese that Mr. Schwab was in the custody of local authorities in southern Vietnam. Subsequently, on May 30 he met with Deputy Foreign Minister Hoang Bich Son in New York and again with Mr. Son and Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach last month in Hanoi to discuss arrangements for Mr. Schwab's return. Mr. Schwab's father, Robert Schwab, Jr., his stepfather and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Davis, of Atlanta, Georgia, have been informed.

The President is pleased that Mr. Schwab has been released. We are gratified that the Government of Vietnam has worked with us in effecting his return to the United States and have particular praise for Mr. Schwab's family, who have worked closely and effectively with us for over a year.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 9:28 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.