North Korea returns the remains of what are believed to be US service members who died during the Korean War
- North Korea is estimated to have returned 55 sets of remains belonging to US servicemen who died in North Korea during the Korean War.
- In a symbolic move, the remains were returned on the 65th anniversary of the armistice that paused Korean War hostilities.
- The remains will be airlifted to a forensic lab in Hawaii, where the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will attempt to identify them.
- The repatriation signals a win for Trump, fulfilling an agreement he reached with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their June summit in Singapore.
The remains of US servicemen who died in North Korea during the Korean War were provided to the US military on Friday, after President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to work on repatriation efforts during their June summit.
North Korea is estimated to have returned 55 sets of remains on the same day of the 65th anniversary of the armistice that paused Korean War hostilities. Around 5,300 US remains are still believed to be in North Korea.
"We are encouraged by North Korea's actions and the momentum for positive change," the White House said in a statement. "The United States owes a profound debt of gratitude to those American service members who gave their lives in service to their country and we are working diligently to bring them home."
"It is a solemn obligation of the United States Government to ensure that the remains are handled with dignity and properly accounted for so their families receive them in an honorable manner."
The remains will be airlifted to a forensic lab in Hawaii, where the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will perform identification tests, according to The Washington Post. The process will take several years and attempt to determine where the servicemen were missing or buried.
A formal repatriation ceremony will be held on August 1, according to The White House.
Plans to return the remains appeared to be scuttled earlier in July, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned to the US after visiting North Korea for negotiations - following his visit, Pyongyang ramped up its rhetoric against the US in numerous propaganda messages and railroaded negotiations with US officials at the North-South Korean border.
If the remains are confirmed, the repatriation signals a win for Trump, who remained optimistic on their return after his first meeting with Kim at Singapore in June. In a joint statement during the summit, Trump and Kim said their two countries would to work towards the "immediate repatriation" of US remains to "contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world."
"Great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea," Trump said on Twitter in June. "Hostages are back home, will be getting the remains of our great heroes back to their families, no missiles shot, no research happening, sites closing ... Got along great with Kim Jong-un who wants to see wonderful things for his country."
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