Laos and the United States held a "cordial" two-day meeting on the fate of 547 Americans still listed as missing in action in Laos, a U.S. Embassy official said Saturday.
Harriet Isom, charge d'affaires of the American Embassy in Laos, declined to disclose details in a telephone interview from Bangkok.The meeting ended Friday, she said.
Earlier, Laos state radio said the two sides would discuss their first annual plan to resolve the MIA issue and the provision of U.S. humanitarian aid to the Southeast Asian nation.
The United States over the past two years has provided more food and medical aid to Laos, and the Vientiane government has significantly increased cooperation in searching for the missing, allowing several joint searches of wartime crash sites.
Those efforts were criticized Friday by former North Carolina Rep. William M. Hendon, who said "everything the government has tried has not for one reason or another succeeded" in bringing out American prisoners he believes still are alive in Indochina. A total of 2,383 Americans are listed as MIA from wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Hendon, of McLean, Va., is traveling this weekend to Thailand's Mekong River boundary with Laos to continue publicizing a $2.5 million reward offered by 21 congressmen to any Indochinese who returns a POW to American custody.
"The word is getting in there. We are doing our best to find an honorable solution to a very difficult situation," he told reporters.
"Tons of intelligence" indicated that live Americans still are held in Indochina, but excavating crash sites was not the way to go about extricating them, said Hendon, who heads the private POW Publicity Fund.
Hendon said the United States was "very close" in 1983 to getting POWs back, following a mission authorized by the White House during which he helped bring $225,000 worth of medicine to Laos in exchange for live Americans.