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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 676-94
December 07, 1994

UNITED STATES HOSTS UNITED STATES-RUSSIA JOINT COMMISSION ON POW/MIAS PLENARY

The United States will host the eleventh United States-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC) plenary in Washington, DC from December 7-9, 1994. The Washington meeting is the second to be held in the United States.

The USRJC was established in March 1992 by agreement between Presidents Bush and Yeltsin to determine the fates of American servicemen from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War, who may still be missing on the territory of the former Soviet Union or about whom the Russians may have information. The Commission also has an objective to assist the Russians in learning about the fates of Russian servicemen in Afghanistan. The U.S. side of the Commission is headed by Ambassador Malcolm Toon. Other members include Senators Bob Smith and John Kerry; Congressmen Sam Johnson and Pete Peterson -- both former POWs in Vietnam; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA James Wold; President Joint Military Intelligence College Denis Clift; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Pete Tomsen; Department of State Director for Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs John Herbst; and Acting National Archivist Dr. Trudy Peterson. The Russian side, headed by General Volkogonov, includes parliamentarians, the heads of the major archives, and the officials of the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, the Interior, and security services.

To date the Joint Commission has met nine times in Moscow, commencing in March 1992, and most recently in August/September 1994. The Commission has also traveled to the Baltic States, the Ukraine, Armenia, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and to eastern Russian in an effort to expand interview efforts and archival searches.

While here, the USRJC will visit the United States Naval Academy and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. The USRJC has been actively involved in locating the remains of Captain John Dunham, USAF, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1950. The visit is designed to continue to stimulate initiatives with our Russian counterparts that are expected to produce more witnesses, documents, and leads to additional information regarding our POW/MIAs.

The visit to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds is an attempt to show the Russian delegation some of our equipment holdings and, in turn, to encourage them to examine their holdings of U.S. material, which may enhance our chances to resolve POW/MIA issues. It is hoped that such an activity will challenge the Russians to look at serial numbers, markings, and other data that can possible provide clues to the origin of equipment and its users. One other objective is to request of the Russian side of the USRJC that American investigators be granted access to Russian museums, technical institutes, and test facilities which may hold American equipment taken for technical exploitation or as trophies from World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, or Vietnam.

This plenary is intended to promote the work already undertaken in previous commission meeting held over the past two and one half years. Discussions will involve working group sessions for World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and the Cold War, permit Russian delegates to examine our archival holdings, meet with senior American military and civilian officials, and provide a forum for family members to directly ask Russian Commission members questions pertaining to individual cases.