The U.S. said it would be resuming field operations to search for estimated 5,300 Americans who have yet to return home from North Korea.
The U.S. said it would also recommence the repatriation of remains of Americans who were killed in the Korean War in the 1950s.
The U.S. Department of Defense, in a statement, said the UN Command with support from U.S. Forces Korea on Friday repatriated 55 cases of remains of fallen U.S. service members returned by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea.
Pentagon also said a U.S. cargo aircraft flew to Wonson, North Korea, to receive the remains and returned promptly to Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Pentagon quoted a White House statement as saying North Korea’s actions “represent a significant first step to recommence the repatriation of remains from North Korea and to resume field operations in North Korea to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who have not yet returned home”.
The White House said: “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”.
Pentagon also quoted Gen. Vincent Brooks, Commander, UN Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, as saying: “It was a successful mission following extensive coordination”.
“Now, we will prepare to honor our fallen before they continue on their journey home,” Brooks added.
“Pentagon said Brooks would host a full honors ceremony for the fallen service members Wednesday, and immediately following that ceremony, the remains would be flown to Hawaii for further processing under the Accounting Agency of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.
“According to Pentagon, the UN Command in Korea remains committed to enforcing the 1953 UN Armistice Agreement to return fallen service members. (NAN)
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