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Jul 09, 2020 / 10:26

Vietnam, US strengthen partnership in overcoming war legacies

The latest effort will enable Vietnam to find and identify more than 200,000 Vietnamese combatants missing in action.

Vietnam and the US have reached an agreement on identifying remains of Vietnamese soldiers missing in action during the Vietnam War.

 Overview of the ceremony on July 8. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi

On July 8, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) to support DNA analysis of unidentified human remains recovered from the war, according to the US Embassy in Hanoi.

Under this MOI, USAID will partner with VNOSMP to fund US$2.4 million for a new project of three to five years with an aim to complement a broader US Department of Defense effort to support Vietnam’s efforts to find and identify the more than 200,000 Vietnamese combatants missing in action (VMIA).

The US intends to institutionalize VMIA cooperation along six lines of effort, of which USAID’s contribution will be to support improving DNA analysis capacity.

 Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son at the ceremony. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi

Under this agreement, USAID will provide Vietnam with the cutting edge technology for DNA extraction and analysis, work with Vietnam to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their laboratories, and ultimately increase the number of remains that can be accurately reunited with their families.

The signing ceremony was attended by US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Michael Greene, USAID/Vietnam Deputy Mission Director Craig Hart, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, and VNOSMP Director Le Chi Dung.

 US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi

Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Kritenbrink said: “The United States appreciates all the support that Vietnam has provided over the last 35 years in accounting for missing US service members, and is committed to supporting the people of Vietnam as they seek to identify and ultimately reunite remains of combatants with their loving families.”

Since 1989, the US and Vietnamese Governments have worked together to overcome the effects of the war with programs that remediate dioxin contamination, support persons with disabilities, and remove unexploded ordnance. In addition to these activities, the search, recovery, and identification of human remains from the war is vitally important both spiritually and culturally for both countries.