U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam works with Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology to Promote Cooperation to Improve Capacity to Examine War Remains
Attending the meeting on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam were Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, Director General of the International Agency for the Search for Missing Persons (ICMP); Col. Thomas Bouchillon, Military Attaché to the U.S. Embassy; and Ms. Ritu Tariyal, Director of the Division of Healing and Inclusive Development (RIDO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID). On the side of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was Mr. Le Cong Tien, Director of Vietnam Agency for Searching for Missing Persons (VNOSMP). On the VAST side, there was Prof. Dr. Chu Hoang Ha, Vice President of VAST; representatives of Institute of Biotechnology, University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, Institute of Information Technology and some related units under VAST.
Prof. Acad. Chau Van Minh speaks at the meeting
Speaking at the meeting, Prof. Acad. Chau Van Minh said that as a technology research and development unit under the Government of Vietnam, VAST has pioneered the application of DNA technology in the assessment work for more than 20 years. Center for DNA Identification (CDI) - under Institute of Biotechnology, VAST officially came into operation in 2019, marking the expansion of the scale and improvement of the quality of DNA technology application in the examination of remains at VAST in particular and Vietnam in general. Currently, Center for DNA Identification is a unit that coordinates with US partners to carry out scientific research activities, build technological processes within the framework of the Project to improve the capacity of assessing remains.
Prof. Acad. Chau Van Minh also emphasized the effective cooperation between VAST and the International Commission for the Search of Missing Persons (ICMP) in training and researching and developing assessment procedures suitable to Vietnamese conditions. Since 2022, ICMP has been working to improve nuclear DNA extraction technology to address Vietnam's challenge of heavily decomposed samples. Prior to Ambassador Marc Knapper's visit, the two sides updated some of the results of cooperation and discussed the possibilities of DNA extraction using new technologies developed by ICMP and potential applications. Through ICPM, USAID plans to equip the DNA Testing Center with a number of equipment, materials, and chemicals, along with training young personnel; cooperate, research and develop advanced DNA testing procedures on remains collected in Vietnam, especially those that have decomposed heavily in tropical conditions, suitable to human and material conditions in Vietnam.
Ambassador Marc Knapper speaks at the meeting
Ambassador Marc Knapper was "pleased to reaffirm the United States' steadfast commitment to support Vietnam's cherished efforts to identify remains from the war to reunite unidentified remains with their families. We stand with Vietnam, realizing together the profound meaning of providing answers to families who have spent decades waiting for information."
Ambassador Marc Knapper added that the two sides have cooperated and supported each other, bringing many remarkable results, including the support of the Vietnamese side for the inventory of the number of US military personnel still missing. This has been proven by the achievements of VNOSMP. These achievements are the foundation contributing to the cooperation relationship of the two sides. In February 2023, the handover of 100 remains from Vietnam to the ICMP in the Netherlands will take place. This will help ICMP develop the optimal DNA sequencing program for Vietnam, and it is a testament to the cooperation between the two governments.
Recalling DNA testing technology stems from the Nobel Prize-winning work in physiology or medicine in 1961 by Watson and Crick, Prof. Acad. Chau Van Minh said: "On the basis of human inventions from US scientists, with the support of agencies in the Government of Vietnam and the United States and the foundation of 10 years of comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and the United States, positive results are gradually appearing from the efforts of our scientists, towards the shared values of peace, progress and prosperity."
Helping Vietnam improve DNA testing capacity and develop a comprehensive system to match DNA from badly decomposed remains with DNA from families searching for loved ones is part of the U.S. Government's Accounting for Missing Vietnamese Initiative, and is a testament to our commitment to creating a better future for our peoples, contributing to the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the United States that has just turned a decade.
Some photos at the meeting:
The Ambassador visits Center for DNA Identification
Take souvenir photograph
Translated by Mai Lan and internship group
Link to Vietnamese version