North Korea returns remains of United States soldiers

Saul Bowman
July 27, 2018

The development comes out of the June summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

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The repatriation of remains of US soldiers missing in the 1950-53 conflict is seen as a modest diplomatic coup for US President Donald Trump because it was one of the agreements reached during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. "Today, the Chairman is fulfilling part of the commitment he made to the President to return our fallen American service members".

The US military transport plane took off from the Osan Air Base for North Korea at 5.55am local time, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing a Seoul government source.

Between 1990 and 2005, 229 sets of remains from the North were repatriated, but those operations were suspended when ties deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. After the Japanese surrender, the Soviet Union occupied the area north of the 38th parallel and the United States occupied the area south until 1948. At a press conference, Trump said he wanted to stop U.S. military exercises with South Korea and eventually withdraw United States troops - something Pyongyang has been demanding for years. The war killed millions, including 36,000 American soldiers. The remains are expected to be taken to Hawaii for identification. This means that the Korean War is still technically ongoing, 68 years later.

Rick Downes, who was three years old when his father Hal Downes went missing during the Korean War, flew to Pyongyang to press for the return of not just his father's remains but also those of the 5,300 American servicemen still missing in action in North Korea.

This spring, American Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams and I were among several United States women who were denied special exemptions to travel to North Korea to meet with women from the Korea Socialist Women's Union to discuss how women could end the Korean War.

Mr Pompeo added that "every single nation" must maintain enforcement of USA sanctions against North Korea.

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The programme helped bring in vital hard currency to North Korea, which has been under USA -led sanctions for decades.

The number of soldiers whose remains were transferred is still unclear, though reports said that Pyongyang would return 55 sets of remains.

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".

While many are expecting that to take place in the morning, there's been no official announcement from the US, the North or UN Command.

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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, this month to urge North Korea to go forward with Kim's commitments. Its officials also agreed to resume joint U.S.

DPAA has identified locations where they believe there are major concentrations of remains inside North Korea.


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