Vietnam, US seek ways to boost defence ties

(VNA) Vietnam and the US discussed ways to elevate their defence cooperation to a new level during Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh’s visit to the US from December 10-15.

On December 15, Defence Minister Thanh held talks with his American counterpart Robert Gates at which they touched upon a wide range of issues in the bilateral defence ties together with regional and international issues of mutual concern.

The Vietnamese minister affirmed that the US is a big partner of Vietnam in all fields and that his visit’s purpose is to contribute to strengthening friendship, relationship and mutual understanding between the two countries.

The US officials spoke highly of Vietnam ’s active and effective cooperation in searching US servicemen missing in action (MIA) during the war as well as in gathering the full account of MIA soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Vietnam and the US have jointly conducted 97 search and excavation missions so far, resulting in the repatriation of 894 sets of remains of US soldiers.

The US side has provided Vietnam with information relating to nearly 1,000 cases of Vietnamese soldiers missing in action – the figure remains small in comparison with Vietnam ’s recorded 300,000 soldiers missing during the war.

The Vietnamese officials also handed over to the US officials documents that specify 13 locations where joint excavations will be conducted in order to shorten the duration of the programme to search US MIA soldiers in Vietnam further.

The two sides pledged to continue to cooperate in the issue in humanitarian spirit.

They agreed to continue to work together in addressing the aftermaths of the war, including decontaminating toxic chemicals, removing bombs and mines left from the war, cooperating in search and rescue activities on sea, and coordinating in the forecasting of storms on sea.

During his official visit to the US , Defence Minister Thanh also met with First Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, Senator James Webb, Senator John McCain, and National Security Advisor General James Johns, and visited the National Defense University of the US (NDU)./.