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Ayotte wants burials of veterans to resume at Philippine cemetery

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CONCORD, New Hampshire — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire says burials have been suspended at a cemetery in the Philippines that is the final resting place for more than 8,300 American veterans.

Last year, the United States and the government of the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in restoring the cemetery, after President Barack Obama signed a law to restore it.

The Clark Veterans Cemetery was neglected following a volcanic eruption in 1991 and abandonment of a U.S. Air Force base. The cemetery was left covered in ash and overgrown by weeds. Since 1994, volunteers in the Philippines have attempted to maintain the cemetery.

Ayotte wrote Monday to Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia requesting help in resolving delays for families waiting to bury their loved ones at the cemetery. She said the burials have been suspended by the Phillippines' Bases Conversion and Development Authority, which converts former U.S. military bases into alternative productive civilian use.

"This suspension has placed significant financial and emotional burdens upon the families of veterans awaiting burial at Clark Veterans Cemetery," she wrote. "I am sure you would agree that when a family of a veteran is grieving the loss of their loved one, they should not have to cope with bureaucratic obstacles related to burial arrangements."

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