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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 719-04
July 28, 2004

U.S. POW/MIA Official Cites Breakthrough in Vietnam

U.S. POW/MIA accounting operations will soon resume in the Central Highlands of Vietnam to account for missing Americans lost during the Vietnam War. U.S. and Vietnamese technical experts will meet in September in Pleiku, Vietnam, to review cases and interview witnesses as an initial step.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Jerry D. Jennings met with Gia Lai Province officials in Pleiku yesterday to discuss the return of American POW/MIA investigators, whose access had been denied for three years due to local unrest. Senior province officials agreed operations will resume and that they should be conducted in the same manner as in the rest of the country.

"I am very pleased," Jennings said, "that Vietnamese officials both at the provincial and central government levels are again willing to allow us access to this sensitive region. This is a very positive step."

Jennings has notified U.S. investigators to resume contacts with officials in the Central Highlands in order to schedule operations. Of the 1,855 Americans missing from the Vietnam War, some 110 are thought to be in the Central Highlands area.

Achieving the fullest possible accounting of missing Americans is of the highest national priority. Of the 88,000 missing from all conflicts, more than 125 are from the Cold War, 8,100 are from the Korean War, and 78,000 are unaccounted-for from World War II.

Additional information on POW/MIA accounting may be found on the DPMO web site athttp://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/ or by calling (703) 699-1169.