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US; Vietnam Strike Deal to Improve Identification of Vietnam War Remains

On July 8, 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Intent that increases US funding and assistance for the identification of deceased soldiers found in Vietnamese territory. The agreement is beneficial to both sides, with the Vietnamese improving their technical and scientific abilities, and the US bringing home missing servicemen. The memorandum also highlights increasing cooperation between the Vietnamese and US governments.

In the 1990s, the United States and Vietnam normalized relations. Since then, the two nations have signed a Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) and developed a strong, albeit limited, economic relationship. The main area of growth in the two's relationship is security cooperation. The United States views Vietnam as a potential ally in the new Cold War against China. America's former foe is competing against the People's Republic of China in the South China Sea for mineral and fishing rights. This new security relationship was made manifest in 2017, when President Donald J. Trump made a state visit to Hanoi to reaffirm America's commitment to a three-year Plan of Action for Defense Cooperation.

Although defense support has usually remained clandestine or small in scale, there are notable instances of friendly military landings in Vietnam. In 2018, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) made a four-day port call in Da Nang. Servicemen participated in cultural classes, professional workshops, sporting events, and ship tours. Remarkably, the US Navy hosted a formal reception for Vietnam's military brass and political leadership aboard the aircraft carrier.

After nearly 45 years, 1,200 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines remain missing in Vietnam.


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