Wednesday, March 20, 2013

US concludes MIA seach in Myanmar


Wednesday, 20 March 2013 14:12 AFP

The United States said on March 19 that it had completed a successful first mission to Myanmar since 2004 to search for the remains of missing American servicepeople.

General Stilwell marches out of Burma, May 1942. (National Archives)

A nine-person team, which conducted research and field investigations in Taungoo, Yangon, and Mandalay, "yielded multiple new leads" during the three-week visit that ended on Friday, a US embassy statement said.

Notices were placed in local journals appealing for information about the possible whereabouts of servicepeople left unaccounted for in World War II.

"One of the first steps is to identify places in the country where remains could potentially be, and the people who know that best are the people who live in those areas," a US embassy spokesman told AFP.

Around 730 Americans are thought to be missing in Myanmar as a result of Allied operations against Japan in the region during World War II, according to the US Department of Defense.

The mission is the latest sign of dramatic re-engagement between Washington and Myanmar, as the former pariah state embarks on sweeping reforms as part of its emergence from decades of military rule.

Washington has rewarded those changes with the dismantling of many key sanctions, the appointment of an ambassador and a historic visit by President Barack Obama in November.

Then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced plans to resume work on finding the remains of servicepeople when she travelled to Myanmar in late 2011.
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