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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 938-04
September 22, 2004

Defense POW/MIA Official Concludes Talks in Russia

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Jerry D. Jennings completed a series of key talks with Russian officials Wednesday evening in Moscow.

Jennings three-day discussions centered on improving the work done by the U.S. Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs. The president recently appointed Jennings the U.S. chairman of the commission which was established in 1992 by the United States and Russian Federation presidents to clarify the fates of missing American and Russian service members from all conflicts since the beginning of World War II.

The commission has played a key role over the years in helping us to account for missing Americans, but we can do better. Its work requires support from the highest levels of the Russian government, and its my intent to strengthen that support, just as we have on the U.S. side, Jennings said.

During his visit, he spoke with officials from the Russian Security Council; the Russian State Duma; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Committee of Warrior-Internationalists; and a key veterans organization, The Combat Brotherhood. He also briefed U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and Deputy Chief of Mission John Beyrle.

The head of the Department of State security said the commissions work is a very important activity that brings the people of our two countries together, and promotes cooperation between our nations.

During his conversations with Russian officials, Jennings received assurances that ongoing reorganizations would not diminish the Russian governments support for the work of the commission. The officials expressed admiration for the substantial progress the commission had made since 1992 clarifying the fates of thousands of Russians missing since WWII as well as that of many missing Americans. They agreed that a renewed emphasis on the importance of the commissions work was needed, and pledged to improve and support its work in the future. A full-time POW/MIA office, part of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, serves as a vital member of the country team in the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

Jennings also reminded officials of the importance of supporting a plenary session among the commissioners of both the U.S. and Russian sides. That event is tentatively planned for November in Washington.

Our commitment to our fallen warriors on both sides demands that we reinvigorate the commissions work. Im confident we can move this humanitarian work ahead, and keep our promises to our fellow veterans and the families of the missing, he added.

Jennings and his delegation return to the United States on Thursday.

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