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by Peggy Fikac

AUSTIN – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will deliver the keynote address at the Vietnam War Summit this month at the LBJ Presidential Library, a gathering that will spotlight a critical, difficult point in Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

Kerry, who served in the Navy during the war, will speak April 27, in the middle of the three-day event, before accompanying President Barack Obama on his Vietnam visit in May. The secretary of state is expected to focus on the changes in Vietnam and in its relationship with the United States.

The summit is hosted by the University of Texas at Austin and the library, whose officials promised an unflinching look at the war.

“When the LBJ Presidential Library was first dedicated, President Johnson proclaimed, ‘It’s all here, the story of our time – with the bark off. There is no record of a mistake, or an unpleasantness or a criticism that is not included in the files here,’ ” said Mark K. Updegrove, library director.

“In keeping with President Johnson’s vision for his library, we will take an unvarnished look at the most controversial facet of his presidency. Our goal is to shed definitive light on the Vietnam War, its lessons and legacy.”

The library’s website highlights the importance of the war in Johnson’s personal history: “The war in Vietnam began long before Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency and ended in 1975, years after he left office. But for many Americans, it is the event most closely associated with Johnson’s years in the White House.”

Among the summit participants besides Kerry are Henry Kissinger, secretary of state from 1973-77; Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnam ambassador to the United States; and filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 10-part Vietnam War documentary is to be released in 2017.