News / Asia

Extra Sites Opened in Vietnam to Search for Missing US Troops

FILE - Pilots salute as U.S. soldiers carry a casket containing human remains, believed to belong to a U.S. servicemen missing in action during the Vietnam War, during a repatriation ceremony at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, November 2012.
FILE - Pilots salute as U.S. soldiers carry a casket containing human remains, believed to belong to a U.S. servicemen missing in action during the Vietnam War, during a repatriation ceremony at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, November 2012.
Reuters
Vietnam advised the United States at the start of high-level talks this week it would open four additional sites to investigators seeking the remains of American military personnel missing since the Vietnam War, a senior U.S. defense official said.

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Vikram Singh, who oversees U.S. military ties with South and Southeast Asia, said an eight-member delegation led by Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh told U.S. defense officials about the decision at the outset of talks at the Pentagon this week.

“They basically opened the meeting by turning over the information and providing us access to an additional four sites for remains recovery operations to go look for our fallen,” said Singh, calling it a “really meaningful” gesture.

A U.S. official said on Friday the sites were in the southern part of Vietnam and were small areas where specific incidents are believed to have taken place. Officials declined to elaborate, citing concerns for the families of the missing.

The Defense Department's POW/Missing Personnel Office says 1,643 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, including 1,275 in Vietnam and the rest in Laos, Cambodia and China. The office has investigated 600 of the Vietnam cases and believes it will not be possible to recover the remains, leaving 675 still being sought in that country.

Vinh's delegation visited the Pentagon for talks that take place annually between the former enemies, which have been deepening military ties over the past decade.

The pace of contact between the two countries has increased in recent years as the United States has moved to refocus its energies on the Asia-Pacific region after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rebalancing takes place amid concerns among Washington and Asian allies about China's growing assertiveness in the region.

'Deepening ties'

Then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Vietnam last year, stopping at Cam Ranh Bay to visit a U.S. Navy supply vessel undergoing repairs, before traveling to Hanoi for talks with senior defense leaders.

“In the year since then, what we've seen is just an across-the-board deepening of defense ties,” Singh said in an interview this week. He noted that Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel both served in the Vietnam War and had a special interest in the country.

The United States and Vietnam have been cooperating in five areas since signing a memo of understanding in 2011: peacekeeping, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, search and rescue, and high-level exchanges.

Singh said the two countries had been increasing cooperation on peacekeeping over the past year after Vietnam changed its laws and regulations to permit its military forces to participate in international peacekeeping operations.

“We see it as in our interest for all the Southeast Asian nations to be active supporters and contributors to peacekeeping operations,” he said.

The two sides also set the stage for further cooperation on maritime security during the visit, Singh said. Admiral Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard, and Major General Nguyen Quang Dam, commander of Vietnam's coast guard, signed an agreement formalizing their decision to work together on equipment, training and capacity building.

“Having this cooperation is an opportunity for us to work together with them on things that we think will help contribute to overall peace and stability in the South China Sea,” said Singh.

The South China Sea has been the scene of increasing tensions in the region, as China and other countries have advanced competing territorial claims around the resource-rich waterway.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs