- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2011

STILL MISSING IN ACTION

In the Philippines, U.S. AmbassadorHarry Thomas Jr. is hoping to bring some relief to the relatives of more than 36,000 Americans still listed as missing in action from World War II in the Pacific Theater.

“Sadly, for over 65 years, many of those Americans who fought alongside Filipinos and gave their lives to liberate the Philippines in World War II have never been accounted for, as their remains have never been found. Their families have not been able to know their final stories nor properly lay them to rest,” Mr. Thomas said, as he signed an agreement to establish a new effort to search for the MIAs.

“Thanks to this new undertaking with the government of the Philippines, we now have an opportunity to address this. We are grateful for this cooperation which will eventually bring closure to so many families.”

The agreement with the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs will allow U.S. military teams from the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command to make periodic visits to the Philippines to search for missing Americans.

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial lists 36,285 American MIAs, who fought mostly in the Philippines or New Guinea. More than 12,000 Americans died in the notorious Bataan “Death March,” when Japanese soldiers forced 78,000 prisoners of war to walk 64 miles from Bataan to a POW camp in Tarlac province in the north.

Mr. Thomas and Foreign SecretaryAlbert del Rosariosigned the agreement Friday.

NEW FOR KOREA

President Obama plans to nominate the first Korean-American diplomat to serve as U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

The appointment of Sung Kim, a 51-year-old North Korea specialist at the State Department, is a “decision symbolizing stronger, upgraded ties” with South Korea, the Korea Herald newspaper reported, quoting a Washington diplomatic source who confirmed that Mr. Kim is the White House choice.

Mr. Kim was born in South Korea and emigrated to the United States in the 1970s, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1980.

He has served as a special envoy to the multinational talks on North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. The talks - involving delegates from the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States - have been stalled for more than two years.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Foreign MinisterAlain Juppeof France, who addresses the Brookings Institution on the “Arab Spring” and other foreign policy issues.

Tuesday

• ChancellorAngela Merkelof Germany, who arrives on a state visit and receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

• Prime MinisterBruce Goldingof Jamaica, who addresses the Brookings Institution on Caribbean efforts to promote growth and competition. On Thursday, he will address the International Forum on Caribbean Investment and Development.

• Mayor Alonso Salazar Jaramilloof Medellin, Colombia, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue on the transformation of a city once known as the center of the South American drug trade.

Wednesday

• Omar Al-Mashhadani, former spokesman for the Iraqi Parliament, who discusses the “Arab Spring” in a briefing at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Thursday

• Andrei Bystritsky, chairman of the Voice of Russia, who participates in a panel discussion on U.S.-Russian relations at 9 a.m. at the National Press Club. He also inaugurates the launch of a Voice of Russia radio station in Washington on 1390 AM.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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