North Korea transfers remains of Korean War soldiers: White House

North Korea transfers remains of Korean War soldiers: White House

U.S. soldiers salute to vehicles transporting the remains.

Kim Jong Un is poised to return the remains of dozens of United States soldiers this week; complying with previous agreements that called on his regime to handover the missing heroes by a July 27 deadline.

An Associated Press journalist at the base outside the capital Seoul saw the plane, a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jet, land there Friday morning.

Relatives have waited years to retrieve the remains of their loved ones.

Trump had promised to secure the release of more remains after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month.

The remains flown out Friday were the first handed over since a joint effort by USA military experts and North Korean workers between 1996 and 2005. -South Korea alliance with calls for USA troops to leave the Korean peninsula, he added.

The release took place about 6 a.m. Friday after a U.S. Air Force jet left the North Korean city of Wonsan. They stood silently and watched.

"This is an emotional and symbolic gesture", said another. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress on Wednesday North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs. 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.

Fifty-five servicemen were returned as part of the operation, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The missing U.S. soldiers are among around 33,000 coalition troops still unaccounted for.

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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.

The remains will then be brought to the U.S. to undergo thorough forensic testing.

The plane will take the remains to South Korea and a formal repatriation ceremony will be held on August 1, the White House said.

What has the reaction been?

North Korea soon accused the United States of making a "unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization" while failing to offer corresponding US incentives to improve ties.

Earlier this week, Mr. Trump said the process of returning the remains was under way.

In a sign of potential progress, new satellite imagery shows that North Korea has started dismantling a facility seen as a testing ground for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The transfer of remains represents one of the first tangible results of Trump's June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North Koreans could now argue that they have begun to fulfill their part of the bargain struck in Singapore. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has accused the United States of "gangster-like" tactics. Indeed, the agreement did not specify what exact measures would be taken.

After Pompeo visited Pyongyang in June for talks, state media quoted a spokesman for the North's Ministry of the Foreign Affairs criticizing the USA delegation for not mentioning the idea of a peace regime.

In anticipation of the anniversary of the armistice, North Korean state media on Thursday published a piece honoring Korean War veterans, highlighting a visit by communist officials to the residences of living veterans "who performed immortal feats in the sacred war for defending the country and the grand drive for socialist construction".