Vietnam veterans are today rejoicing over a major breakthrough after Prime Minister Helen Clark promised to seriously look at their grievances.

Vietnam Veterans Association of New Zealand president John Moller said Miss Clark last night invited him and five other Vietnam veterans to meet with her on Monday.

"This is a big step," Mr Moller said.

"It's been going on for such a long time. This meeting is a major breakthrough for us."


The veterans have long been fighting different Governments to be awarded with compensation and recognition for the illnesses they suffer as a result of being exposed to the lethal chemical, Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War.

Returned servicemen have been dying from illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

The veterans blame the deaths on exposure to Agent Orange.

Their illnesses have also been passed on to their children who have also suffered health defects.

"A lot of people have suffered and died unnecessarily. We are delighted the Prime Minister is having a genuine look at these problems," Mr Moller said.

"The discrimination against Vietnman vets and others veterans has got to stop."