US provides Vietnam DNA technology to identify KIAs

By Vu Anh   March 10, 2023 | 08:31 am PT
US provides Vietnam DNA technology to identify KIAs
Director General of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power speaks at a press meet in Hanoi on March 10 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Vu Anh
The U.S. will supply DNA technology to help Vietnam to identify the remains of soldiers who died during the Vietnam War, said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper.

"We will bring the best and most advanced DNA technology to Vietnam in the hope of helping Vietnamese people find their relatives who died in the war," Knapper said on Friday.

His statement was made at a press conference at which Director General of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power was in attendance. Power has been on a visit to Vietnam for a week already.

Knapper said that Washington is very interested in searching for missing soldiers, emphasizing that the US will increase cooperation efforts with Vietnam to cope with the consequences of war.

In addition to technology sharing, Knapper said the U.S. needs to help the Vietnamese government and researchers access data sources developed by the U.S. that help identify the remains of soldiers killed in action (KIA) during the war.

"This is a very time-consuming process but the U.S. government and USAID have a very strong commitment to support Vietnam," Knapper said.

USAID Director General Samantha Power said the U.S. can also apply its DNA analyzing experience accumulated in Bosnia and African to aid Vietnam in searching for the remains of hundreds of thousands of its soldiers who remain missing in action (MIA).

"I see the prospect of a strategic partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam. USAID will do all it can to strengthen the friendship between the peoples of two countries, which we both cherish," Power said.

As part of her visit to Vietnam, Power met Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Friday.

The PM suggested that USAID continue stepping up its support to Vietnam in overcoming the consequences of the war, especially in dioxin (Agent Orange) decontamination, unexploded ordnance clearance and other areas of cooperation.

During a meeting with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, Power said that USAID will continue to focus on solving war legacy issues, including dioxin decontamination at Bien Hoa Airport, and improving DNA testing capacity for Vietnamese scientists to search for and identify the remains of Vietnamese MIAs, improve health and social services to boost the quality of life of people with disabilities, and assist Vietnam in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Power on Wednesday attended the handover ceremony of 30,000 m2 of clean land at the Bien Hoa Airport to the defense ministry following dioxin contamination removal. The land area, located to the southwest of the airport in the southern Dong Nai Province, will eventually be turned into a park.

The US also provided an additional $73 million for the treatment and cleansing of soil at the Bien Hoa Airport.

Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange, a compound of dioxins and dioxin-like mixtures, over 78,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of southern Vietnam.

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