U.S. freezes funding to Vietnam for recovery of war remains
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 30, 2011
CAMP FOSTER — The U.S. government will not fund efforts to identify and recover the remains of Communist fighters who died in the Vietnam War unless that country agrees to also search for the missing South Vietnamese who allied with American forces, a U.S. senator said Thursday.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said the State Department notified Vietnam this week that $1 million in USAID foreign funding has been frozen because the country indicated it will not look for still missing members of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which fought until the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army took the country in 1975.
A total of about 350,000 Vietnamese war casualties are still buried in anonymous graves and another 300,000 have yet to be found, according to Webb, who is the chairman of the Senate East Asian and Pacific Affairs Committee.
The U.S. has spent tens of millions of dollars and is continually working on the search and recovery of Americans who died in the war.Just over 1,300 Americans are listed as missing in Vietnam, according to the 2010 annual report by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii.
Congress allocated $1 million for the foreign recovery program in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act and the Senate specified that the funds were to be used to locate and identify Vietnamese MIAs from both sides of the conflict.
“It is vital to the spirit of reconciliation, and also to American concepts of loyalty and respect, that we never forget those who were with us, even as we move into the future by working alongside those who fought against us,” Webb said in a released statement Thursday.
From staff reports