Ex-diplomat deputy says MIA success should be template for AO issues

Published: 16/06/2009 05:00



Prompted by news of the Government’s agreement that a US Navy ship can search for remains of American servicemen missing in action (MIA) in Vietnam’s coastal waters, we asked NA Deputy Ngo Quang Xuan to comment on US-Vietnam relations.

Vietnam repatriated remains of American servicemen missing in action to the US at the Da Nang Airport.

Though ‘the MIA issue’ is a sensitive post-war matter, it helped to pave the way for the normalization of relations between Vietnam and the US in the 1990’s. As one of Vietnam’s negotiators at that time, what do you think now about MIA cooperation between the two countries?

I would say that the relations between Vietnam and the US are being diversified in many fields, including politics, economics, defence and the cultural and humanitarian spheres. The bilateral cooperation in MIA accounting is a point of success.

To date, the two sides have conducted 94 search missions. Vietnam has helped repatriate nearly 900 sets of remains to the US. Now that the possibilities of finding more MIA on land have become limited, expansion of the search to the sea opens new hopes.

The 95th search mission, from May 25 to June 24, 2009, is underway with the participation of the US Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) and the support of the US naval vessel Bruce Heezen, an ocean-survey ship.

Besides agreement for a US ship to search for MIA in Vietnam’s water territories, Vietnam and the US have promoted cooperation on the East Sea, such as cooperation against drug trafficking and terrorism and for rescue and relief operations. What do you think about this?

These are lively symbols of real cooperation between the two sides, implementing commitments by the two countries’ leaders, carrying out cooperative programmes between Vietnamese and American agencies.

In terms of economics and trade, the US has become Vietnam’s largest market. The two sides have exchanged and will exchange many high-ranking delegations. They have set up dialogue mechanisms on politics, security and military and established a specialised group on education and a sub-committee on cooperation in environmental sciences.

What is the meaning of Vietnam’s decision to ‘set aside the past and look to the future’ with the US in post-war issues, including accounting for MIA?

The Vietnam-US relationship is a very special partnership, in which MIA has its own position. ‘MIA’ is also a very sensitive issue, a syndrome of war that has left lasting scars on many millions of Vietnamese, the victims of the Vietnam War.

However, we Vietnamese have bravely come to see ‘MIA’ as an humanitarian issue, to bring to this work a clear message that we can work together for better cooperation between the two countries, for peace, stability, development and happiness for the two peoples of both countries and the world.

You just returned from a meeting of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin and the second hearing on the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/ dioxin at the US House of Representatives. That’s another important post-war issue. In your opinion, what can the US do with Vietnam to put this issue to rest as successfully as the cooperation on MIA over the last 20 years?

At the 4th meeting of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on AO/Dioxin and the second hearing at the US House of Representatives, the Vietnamese mission emphasized that although multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries has achieved good results, AO/dioxin is still a big matter in US-Vietnam relationships. It is necessary to add bilateral cooperation to deal with the consequences of AO/dioxin to the comprehensive ‘roadmap’ of bilateral cooperation.

American congressmen who attended the hearing called on the US administration to cooperate responsibly with Vietnam to solve the remaining bad consequences of the war.

Members of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on AO/Dioxin established a schedule for work, a long-term ‘roadmap’ to solve the consequences of AO/dioxin, including combined work by American and Vietnamese chemical research institutes to conduct surveys and evaluation, joining both government and private resources to perform specific projects.

The US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on AO/Dioxin also asked that participants continue to promote five projects which aim at cleaning AO-infected soil and environment, assisting AO victims and raising the awareness of US politicians and people about the AO/dioxin matter so that there will be more funds made available for dealing with the aftermaths of AO/dioxin.


Provide by Vietnam Travel

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