Nov 19, 2010
The United States and Vietnam took another collective step away from
their wartime past on Friday by agreeing to collaborate in locating
and identifying Vietnamese people who went missing during their
A memorandum of understanding between USAID and the Vietnamese
Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs set the stage for
training, information exchanges, provision of equipment and transfer
of technology to help Vietnam find and identify its war missing, the
U.S. embassy said in a statement.
USAID will also give the Vietnamese government $1 million in
technical assistance, the statement said.
Vietnamese cooperation in the search for American soldiers who went
missing during the 1965-75 war has been essential to finding 661 out
of the 1,310 listed as lost. The U.S. Government has also determined
the fate of all but 25 of the 196 Americans who were "last known
alive" (LKA) in Vietnam.
Estimates put the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed
or missing at around three million, with roughly 300,000 still unaccounted for.
More than 58,000 U.S. service members were killed in the Vietnam War,
known by the Vietnamese as 'the American War' because it followed a
protracted conflict with France.
Friday's agreement was the first of its kind for collaboration
between the two governments in searching for Vietnamese MIAs.
U.S. veterans, however, have been handing back artifacts and
souvenirs collected during the war, like photos and diaries, as well
as providing information, in an effort to help the Vietnamese account
for their missing.
Vietnamese people have over the years sought help from soothsayers in
locating the bodies of loved ones lost in combat.
The United States and Vietnam re-established diplomatic ties 15 years
ago. Economic and trade relations have since blossomed and the former
foes have found common diplomatic ground in recent months in shared
concerns over China's growing regional influence and military might.