Trump thanks Kim as North Korea transfers remains of Korean War soldiers

North Korea has recently started dismantling a missile-engine test site, as Trump said Kim promised he would during their summit meeting.

A US Air Force plane carrying what is believed to be the remains of US troops killed during the Korean War some 65 years ago arrived in Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday morning. Between 1990 and 2005, Pyongyang transferred 229 sets of remains to the United States but stopped doing so as relations with Washington deteriorated over North Korea's nuclear program.

An estimated 5,300 USA troops are still unaccounted for in North Korea. "It will return (to South Korea) today". Many skeptics have expressed concerns that North Korea would offer remains of individuals not affiliated with the Korean War, or even decayed remains of animals instead of humans, so as to not comply with the demand for their return. The two Koreas are technically still at war because a peace treaty was never signed.

Washington considers the return of the remains an important gesture as it considers improving ties with North Korea should it denuclearize.

The remains were accompanied by technical experts from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

In their April summit, the leaders of North and South Korea agreed to work this year with the United States and China, which also played a major role in the war, to replace the armistice with a peace agreement.

USA and North Korean officials met twice during the week of July 16 to discuss the transfer of remains, according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The South Korean official cited by Yonhap said it was unclear how many sets of remains will be returned on Thursday. Since 1990, North Korea has repatriated the remains of 340 United States troops.

In the wake of the Singapore summit, many had expected the repatriation to take place sooner but as progress in returning remains had stalled for more than a decade, this repatriation will be welcomed by relatives who have waited decades for progress. Such missions had been held from 1996 until they were cancelled by President George W. Bush amid heightening tensions over the North's nuclear program in 2005.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the June summit and, while it has taken longer than some US officials had hoped, the handover will rekindle hopes for progress in nuclear talks.

It's one of the promises made at the summit in Singapore last month, ...

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.

  • Tracy Klein