North Korea Returns Remains of US Troops

North Korea Returns Remains of US Troops

United States soldiers salute to vehicles transporting the remains.

The plane landed at Osan Air Base outside of Seoul and was met by American soldiers lining up for a ceremony. "If you consider the lives of those who survived the war but have been unable to reunite with their families for 67 years, that highlights the human side of Korean division as an ongoing crisis whose only meaningful and viable resolution is a peaceful one".

North Korea's Kim Jong Un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during their summit meeting in Singapore on 12 June 2018.

More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean Peninsula during the war, out of which around 7,700 are still considered missing, including 5,300 in North Korea alone, according to the Pentagon.

Approximately, 7,700 United States soldiers are listed as missing from the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 - and 5,300 of the remains are still believed to be in North Korea.

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The remains are expected to be flown to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for identification.

South Korea welcomed the return of the remains, calling it "meaningful progress that could contribute to fostering trust" between Pyongyang and Washington.

The small wooden caskets were draped in the United Nations flag and carried carefully one by one from the aircraft onto USA soil. They stood silently and watched. "The hills that the navigator said the plane went down, there they were", he told CBS News' David Martin.

North Korea Returns Remains of US Troops

"This is an emotional and symbolic gesture", said another.

North Korea has held out the return of remains as a symbol of its goodwill and intention to improve ties with Washington. North Korean veterans of the war, which left more than 1.2 million dead, will gather in Pyongyang for a conference.

"Details of what specifically the US had picked up were unclear, but reports said previously that Pyongyang would return about 55 sets of remains from the 1950-53 Korean War".

The missing USA soldiers are among around 33,000 coalition troops still unaccounted for. Between 1990 and 2005, Pyongyang transferred 229 sets of remains to the USA but stopped doing so as relations with Washington deteriorated over North Korea's nuclear program.

The remains will then be brought to the USA to undergo thorough forensic testing. The U.N. Command says the 55 cases of war remains retrieved from North Korea will be honored at a ceremony next Wednesday at a base in South Korea.

What has the reaction been?

While North and South Korea have discussed deals to end the war, and the USA nominally has given its imprimatur to the idea, U.S. officials say that there is little interest in the Trump Administration to actually do this, with some seeing it as undermining their leverage against North Korea on denuclearization. The country, working jointly with the USA military, returned 220 sets of remains up until that year before tensions over the Kim dynasty's nuclear program overshadowed the effort.

Pompeo pledged to maintain tough global sanctions against North Korea despite efforts from Russian Federation and China to water them down.

Kim Jong-un during the meeting with Donald Trump. The North Koreans could now argue that they have begun to fulfill their part of the bargain struck in Singapore.

Sanctions, drought impact on North Korean economy
However, both Pompeo and Trump insist that the talks are going well. "So do I, as progress is happening". Mr Kim has yet to take any concrete steps in that direction, raising doubts about his intentions.

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