Remains of 55 U.S. War Dead in North Korea Start Journey Home After 65 Years

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Remains believed to be these of 55 American servicemen had been flown out of North Korea on Friday, the primary seen consequence of President Trump’s efforts to deliver the American warfare useless residence 65 years after the top of fight in the Korean War.

“We are encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change,” the White House mentioned in asserting the handover.

An American Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo airplane carrying the stays landed later at Osan Air Base south of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Hundreds of American service members in addition to a navy honor guard lined up on the tarmac to mark the return of the fallen troops.

As the consideration guard and the troops stood at consideration, 55 small coffins containing the stays had been individually carried out of the airplane by dress-uniformed troopers and loaded into six vans. Each of the bins was wrapped with the United Nations flag, the flag that American troops fought below in the Korean War.

From Osan Air Base, the stays will likely be transferred to the Hawaii-based Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the place painstaking forensic work will likely be carried out to determine them. Remains that had been returned in the previous from North Korea had been discovered to be blended with these of unidentified people and even with animal bones.

After the return of the stays, President Trump thanked Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s chief, who lower than a yr in the past was threatening the United States with his “nuclear button.”

The Korean War was halted with an armistice signed 65 years in the past on Friday. But hundreds of American troops killed in main battles in North Korea have not been returned as a result of the warfare was by no means formally concluded with a peace treaty, and North Korea and the United States lack diplomatic ties.

The stays flown out on Friday had been the primary handed over since a joint effort by American navy consultants and North Korean employees between 1996 and 2005. The group collected the stays of what had been believed to have been 220 American troopers.

But since then the Pentagon’s efforts to deliver the American warfare useless residence have been overshadowed by tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

A breakthrough got here when Mr. Trump held a summit meeting with Mr. Kim in Singapore on June 12. Mr. Kim dedicated to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and promised to return the stays of American troops, beginning with these already recovered and recognized.

Mr. Trump claimed last month that the North Koreans had “already sent back, or are in the process of sending back, the remains of our great heroes.” He additionally boasted that North Korea’s nuclear disaster had been “largely solved.” But the efforts to denuclearize North Korea and return the American stays have moved slower than Washington had hoped.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, this month to induce North Korea to go ahead with Mr. Kim’s commitments. North Korea quickly accused the United States of making a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” whereas failing to supply corresponding American incentives to enhance ties.

North Korea and the United States have but to agree on an in depth highway map on the best way to obtain what Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump each recognized as their common goal: the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and the creation of a brand new bilateral relationship.

Still, throughout latest talks with American officers on the border between North and South Korea, the North reaffirmed its dedication to return some stays. Its officers additionally agreed to renew joint United States-North Korean searches at main battle websites in the North to recuperate extra stays.

More than 36,000 American troops died in the Korean War. Of them, some 7,700 stay unaccounted for, together with 5,300 believed to have died in the North.

Washington considers the return of the stays an essential good-will gesture because it considers enhancing ties with North Korea ought to it denuclearize. North Korea has lately began dismantling a missile-engine test site, as Mr. Trump mentioned Mr. Kim promised he would throughout their summit assembly.

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