The four nations involved in accounting for Americans missing in action from the Vietnam War concluded a historic meeting in Bangkok Friday.
Hosted by Jerry D. Jennings, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, the senior-level talks were held for the U.S., Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to exchange ideas, experiences and techniques that have been productive in accounting for missing Americans and to set a vision for future work in this area.
The meeting represented the first time that all four nations have joined together in such talks since the end of the war in 1975. The U.S. works with each of the countries individually as specialists investigate MIA cases and excavate loss sites in an effort to recover and identify the remains of missing Americans.
Since the end of the war, the U.S. has accounted for more than 700 Americans from the Vietnam War. More than 1,800 are still unaccounted for from the war. More than 88,000 are still missing from all conflicts.
Mr. Jennings emphasized to the delegations of the other nations that the U.S. will still continue its bilateral relationships in this work, and expressed his appreciation, on behalf of American families, for their cooperation in the past. Each year, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam host more than 700 American specialists who review archives or conduct investigations and recovery operations.
At the conclusion of the two-day session, the delegates agreed that such talks were a useful forum for improving joint cooperation on this important humanitarian mission. This forum would be known as the Annual POW/MIA Consultations. An essential part of this consultation would be a joint effort to oversee the regional accounting activities. The delegates agreed to hold such consultations annually and to rotate the venues where they are held.
The delegates expressed hope that sharing POW/MIA related information among the four nations could be useful as they seek to investigate cases through archival research and cross-border interviews and that the exchange of information should be continued.