[sixties-l] Finding Soldiers Said Top Priority

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Fri Aug 11 2000 - 21:20:30 CUT

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    Finding Soldiers Said Top Priority
    By Paul Alexander
    Associated Press Writer
    Thursday, Aug. 10, 2000; 12:03 a.m. EDT


    HANOI, Vietnam
    Pursuing reports of American soldiers still alive a quarter-century after
    the end of the Vietnam War remains the top priority even though 21,000
    alleged sightings have failed to pan out, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
    Robert L. Jones, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the POW/Missing
    Persons Office, said all the reports have been investigated. "None has
    borne fruit," he said. "There still remains a lot of work to do in that area."
    The number of reports has steadily shrunk since 1973, after Vietnam said
    it returned all American prisoners of war, with only one alleged sighting
    for all of last year, he told reporters at the end of a four-day visit.
                       Jones echoed the praise that Defense Secretary William
    Cohen gave to
    Vietnam when he visited in March and toured a site where U.S. military
    forensic experts were working.
    "I thank the Vietnamese government and people for everything they have
    done," Jones said. "We could not have had the success we have had
    without their assistance."
    Washington is urging Vietnam to conduct more unilateral searches,
    particularly in central Vietnam where some of the fiercest fighting took
    place. Those would supplement month long joint operations now held five or
    six times each year.
    Jones said the U.S. presidential election would not affect Washington's
    commitment to account for the 2,014 still listed as MIA 1,514 in
    Vietnam; the rest in Cambodia, Laos and China.
    "Our methods may change, but we will continue to seek missing Americans
    until all of them are accounted for," he said.
    Since January 1993, 249 sets of remains have been repatriated and returned
    to their families, including 28 since Jan. 1, 1999.
    Vietnam has recovered the remains of 2,500 of its 300,000 MIAs with U.S.
    assistance, including 800 in the past year after being given access to U.S.
    military archives, Jones said.
     Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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