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DANANG, Vietnam -- For the first time since the Vietnam War, the United States will begin cleaning up dioxin left from the defoliant Agent Orange at a former U.S. air base.

A U.S. Embassy official says the $43 million joint U.S.-Vietnamese project begins Thursday at Danang airport, the site of the former U.S. base in central Vietnam.

U.S. planes sprayed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to eliminate enemy jungle cover.

Dioxin lingers in soil and watersheds for generations and has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities.

Danang's airport is one of three known dioxin hotspots in Vietnam.

The U.S. has given about $60 million for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam since 2007, but this is its first direct involvement in dioxin cleanup.

By MIKE IVES, Associated Press