US to help Vietnam search for missing soldiers

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Vietnam and the US Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation in locating and identifying Vietnamese soldiers missing during the Vietnam War.

Under the MoU between the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and USAID, the US will provide Vietnam with US$1 million in technical assistance to help the country search for, identify and document soldiers who went missing.

The assistance includes training, information exchange, provision of equipment and transfer of advanced technology.

Friday's agreement was the first collaboration between the two governments in searching for Vietnamese soldiers missing in action during their decade-long war.

At the signing ceremony, US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak said this new activity came at an opportune time, as Vietnam and the United States were celebrating the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

"We are encouraged to see the increased mutual understanding and trust between our two nations," he said.

There are still hundreds of thousands of unidentified graves of war martyrs in Vietnam and an equal number of Vietnamese soldiers remain missing.

Many relatives of the dead and missing have over the years sought help from those believed to have the ability to communicate with dead spirits to locate the bodies of loved ones lost in combat.

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