In symbolic gesture, North Korea returns remains of USA service members

Marsha Scott
July 27, 2018

The US confirmed a plane carrying the remains was en route from North Korea to a US base in South Korea.

Also on the plane were technical experts from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

A formal repatriation ceremony is going to be held at Osan air base in South Korea on 1 August, and on Thursday, serving United States soldiers and a military honour guard lined the tarmac to receive the remains.

Then, soldiers slowly carried the small cases - covered with the blue-and-white United Nations insignia - before placing them in waiting vans.

"A US Air Force C-17 aircraft containing remains of fallen service members has departed Wonsan, North Korea".

According to the DPAA, about 7,700 us troops are still listed as missing from the war; about 5,300 of that total are believed to have fallen in North Korea.

Pyongyang had been expected to return about 55 sets of remains from the 1950-53 Korean war, a step meant to fulfil a commitment made by leader Kim Jong-un during his summit with president Donald Trump in June.

"As you may know, we're also working to bring back the remains of your brothers in arms who gave their lives to Korea, and I hope that very soon these fallen warriors will begin coming home to lay at rest in American soil", Trump told the VFW.

He said: "After so many years, this will be a great moment for so many families".

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"Progress is happening. We need Chairman Kim Jong-un to follow through on his commitments made in Singapore".

Yonhap notes that July 27 is the 65th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended combat in the Korean War. Kim committed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and promised to return the remains of USA troops, starting with those already recovered and identified. North Korea soon accused the United States of making a "unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization" while failing to offer corresponding USA incentives to improve ties.

"North Korea recently took two truckloads of wooden boxes to be used for the remains repatriation". The group collected the remains of what were believed to have been 220 USA soldiers.

However, as The New York Times notes, "Remains that were returned in the past from North Korea were found to be mixed with those of unidentified individuals and even with animal bones".

Pyongyang has nevertheless expressed its willingness to allow the resumption of joint search missions in the country to retrieve more remains.

Trump said last week there was "no rush" and "no time limit" on the denuclearisation negotiations, but Pompeo has given varying statements about how patient Washington might be.

Sixty-five years later, after two historic summits between the two Koreas at Panmunjom and between North Korea and the United States in Singapore, we are the closest ever to seeing a peace process that will yield that long-awaited peace agreement.

Washington has maintained Pyongyang wouldn't get sanctions relief and significant security and economic rewards unless it firmly commits to a process of completely and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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