US plane heads to North Korea for war remains

Mr Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the US will not let nuclear negotiations with North Korea 'drag on'

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

The transfer of the remains coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces on one side and South Korean and USA -led forces under the U.N. Command on the other.

Washington's reluctance to declare an end to the Korean War until after North Korea abandons its nuclear arsenal may put it at odds not only with Pyongyang, but also with allies in South Korea. This means that the Korean War is still technically ongoing, 68 years later.

Kim paid tribute to the North's Korean War "martyrs" and to Chinese soldiers killed in the conflict, state media said.

This would be a complicated matter this time, unlike the decades of previous USA resistance to making peace with North Korea. According to The New York Times, there are approximately 56,000 South Koreans who are waiting on a list to be reunited with their relatives in North Korea, the majority of whom are in their 80s and 90s.

Officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii were expected to be in South Korea to assist with the return of the remains.

"The commitment established within the Joint Statement between President Trump and Chairman Kim would repatriate these as was done in the early 1990s and would reinforce the humanitarian aspects of this mission", DPAA said in a release last month.

Pyongyang marked the occasion with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un showing his respects to commemorate the anniversary, meeting participants and laying a wreath at the Martyrs Cemetery.

But Yonhap reported Thursday that the North would begin returning the remains.

Despite soaring rhetoric about denuclearization ahead of their meeting, Mr. Trump and Kim's summit ended with only a vague aspirational goal for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how that would occur.

It may take months of detailed DNA analysis to determine how many American service members can be identified.

"It is believed to have landed there an hour later", the official was quoted as saying.

At the air base, USA servicemen and a military honor guard lined up on the tarmac to receive the remains, which were carried in boxes covered in blue United Nations flags.

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Earlier I'd asked Korean War veterans from the USA and the United Kingdom what this meant to them.

"The participants in the conference were excited to see the loving care of the respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un who paid deep attention to the schedule of their stay in Pyongyang and took all steps for the maximum promotion of their health and conveniences", according to the report.

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