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PM Pledges to Speed Up Search for American Remains of Vietnam War

PHNOM PENH: In his first meeting with the US Ambassador as Prime Minister, Hun Manet pledged to continue the search for and repatriate the remains of American soldiers who died during the Vietnam War, while receiving promises of further cooperation for the benefit of both countries.

On September 27, Prime Minister Hun Manet met with US Ambassador Patrick Murphy at the Peace Palace. During their meeting, the PM thanked the US for resuming about $18 million in aid that was paused very briefly following July’s elections, which the US condemned as “neither free nor fair.”

In return, the PM said that Cambodia is preparing to speed up the search for the remains of Americans missing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. He said that his new administration has adjusted the composition of the POW/MIA Commission to coordinate the search and excavation mission of missing American troops as a "gesture of respect and love for the families of the missing fighters."

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that more than 80 US troops went missing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War and that more than half have been found so far.

The search for the remains of American soldiers in Cambodia was suspended in 2017 following clashes between the Cambodian and US governments after the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha ahead of the 2018 election. In response, the US restricted visas of senior Cambodian officials and the search for the remains later resumed with much less efficiency and care.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Manet, US-Cambodian relations have seemingly returned to normal following his trip to the United Nations General Assembly where he met with US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who congratulated the PM on his ascent to power and made no mention of her government’s condemnation of the elections that put him there.

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