MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines and the United States signed an accord Friday to jointly search for the remains of American troops missing in action in the Philippines during World War II.
The U.S. Embassy said the "statement of intent" signed Friday by Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. was the first step in setting guidelines for the search.
Thomas says that families of the missing have not been able to know their final stories and have not given them a proper burial for more than 65 years.
In a statement, the Foreign Affairs Department says the accord honors the shared sacrifices by Filipino and American troops who fought to defend freedom.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines has graves of 17,202 Americans who died in WWII action, most in New Guinea and the Philippines. Tablets inscribed with names of the missing list 36,285, including some since recovered and identified, the cemetery website says.
Neither country gave current figures of the missing Friday, and it wasn't clear if the cemetery's figure was exclusive to the Philippines.