U.S., Vietnamese Experts Discuss How Healing Wounds of War Formed a Strong Partnership

HANOI, March 27, 2019 – On March 26, the governments of the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), hosted a landmark event in Washington, D.C., examining the transformation by the two countries from enemies to partners through cooperation on humanitarian issues. The symposium titled “Overcoming War Legacies: The Road to Reconciliation and Future Cooperation between the United States and Vietnam” brought together U.S. and Vietnamese leaders and experts to explore these cooperative efforts and lessons that can be learned from the building of a strong U.S.-Vietnam partnership. Over 200 participants joined the event, including members of the U.S. Congress; senior officials from the Department of Defense, Department of State, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID); non-governmental organizations; former U.S. Ambassadors; and members of the public.

Forged in the efforts to provide the fullest possible accounting for missing U.S. personnel, cooperation between the former adversaries expanded to include locating and removing unexploded ordnance, remediation of dioxin, and assisting persons with disabilities regardless of cause. From these foundations, the United States and Vietnam have built a Comprehensive Partnership that covers every aspect of the relationship, from defense and health to trade and people-to-people ties.

The symposium was co-chaired by Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Defense Minister of Vietnam and Head of Standing Committee 701, and USIP President Nancy Lindborg. Other notable participants included Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Patrick Leahy, Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Ha Kim Ngoc, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

For more information about the event, visit: https://www.usip.org/events/overcoming-war-legacies

Dioxin remediation program: https://go.usa.gov/xEJxP

Disabilities program: https://go.usa.gov/xEJxN

Additional Background:

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency:

Since 1988, the United States and Vietnam have conducted 134 Joint Field Activities in Vietnam to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel from the war.  The three decades of sustained operations acknowledges the cooperation and strong partnership between our two nations.  This combined humanitarian effort – through the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) and its predecessors in coordination with the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) – has led to the accounting of 727 Americans in Vietnam.  There are 1,246 Americans still unaccounted-for in Vietnam from the war; 1,591 U.S. personnel remain missing from the Vietnam War.  Every unaccounted-for U.S. service member or Department of Defense civilian/contractor is entitled to one certainty: that he or she will not be forgotten.

Unexploded Ordnance:

The United States is proud to be Vietnam’s leading partner in mitigating the explosive remnants of war.  Since 1993, the United States has contributed over $105 million to Vietnam’s efforts to clear away unexploded ordnance, develop training and provide resources for Vietnamese disposal teams, deliver assistance to victims and their families, as well as provide landmine and UXO risk education in high-risk areas.

This year, the United States is on track this year to contribute at least $12.5 million and looks forward to continued, close cooperation with Vietnam, as well as provincial and international partners, in helping rid the country of the scourge of UXO.

Quang Tri province, where most of the work is currently focused, is on track to be declared “impact-free” by 2025 and will be the first province in Vietnam to reach that goal.