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North Korea Will Transfer American Remains in Coming Weeks, Official Says

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, at their summit meeting in Singapore last month.

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States expects to transfer the remains of some American servicemen out of North Korea in the coming weeks, bringing them home 65 years after the end of the Korean War, a United States military official said on Tuesday.

American and North Korean officials met on the border between North and South Korea on Monday in an effort to coordinate the repatriation of remains believed to be those of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 war.

They have yet to sort out details such as the exact date and the number of remains to be shipped out of North Korea, said the United States official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. The repatriation is expected to take place by the end of the month or the beginning of next month, the official said on Tuesday.

In his meeting with President Trump in Singapore on June 12, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, committed to returning the remains of American troops recovered from major Korean War battle sites in his country, including the “immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

United States officials have since said that North Korea indicated that it had 200 to 250 sets of remains ready to be shipped out.

But the process has been slow.

On Sunday, the two nations held their first general-officers’ meeting in nine years. In that meeting, which took place at Panmunjom, a village on the inter-Korean border, they reconfirmed the North’s commitment to the repatriation. They also said the North agreed to resume searches at major battle sites to recover more remains from the estimated 5,300 Americans who never returned home.

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transcript

It’s Been 65 Years. Why Hasn’t the Korean War Ended?

After six decades, the Korean War is technically still not over. Here’s what happened – and why it still matters.

1950: The Korean War begins. It’s technically never ended. Here’s why. First off, the war itself. It killed about 4 million people. On one side, there was South Korea, allied with U.N. forces led by the Americans. On the other side, there was North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China. They fought for three years, until — “A special building had been erected for the signing of the Korean armistice.” This was the signing of a cease-fire, and it did seem to offer some hope. “We have stopped the shooting. That means much to the fighting men and their families. And it will allow some of the grievous wounds of Korea to heal.” But a cease-fire is not a binding peace treaty. “It was all quiet on the Korean front the day after the signing of the armistice.” It only ended the fighting. It also set guidelines, like for the exchange of prisoners and where the army should withdraw to. “The open ground left between must become the demilitarized zone — or DMZ.” It also laid the groundwork for a permanent peace treaty. But here’s the catch. South Korea’s president was against the troops — “President Syngman Rhee is the man who threw a spanner into the works just as the armistice talks at Panmunjom seemed to have reached finality.” — and never let his country sign it. He wanted to keep fighting to unify the whole peninsula and punish the North. None of this boded well for the peace conference, which kicked off a year later. “Seeking solutions for Far Eastern problems. The free world and Communism are again locked in bitter argument.” One of those arguments was over whether foreign allies, like the U.S. and China, could keep troops on the peninsula. And another was how to unify the two countries through elections. Even allies couldn’t agree amongst themselves. So the talks went nowhere. Sixty-five years later, there’s now talk of hashing out a formal ending to the Korean War. And that could set the stage for a broader peace on the Korean peninsula.

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After six decades, the Korean War is technically still not over. Here’s what happened – and why it still matters.CreditCredit...Fox Photos – Getty Images

In the meeting with Mr. Trump in Singapore, Mr. Kim promised to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But their governments have yet to agree upon a detailed road map toward denuclearization.

Washington considers the return of the remains an important good-will gesture.

A repatriation would represent the first homecoming from North Korea since the work of American military experts and North Korean workers from 1996 to 2005. They recovered remains believed to have been those of more than 220 American soldiers.

Remains recovered from North Korea would be transferred to the Hawaii-based Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, where painstaking forensic work would be carried out to identify them.

July 27 is the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that halted the Korean War.

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