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N. Korea hands over remains of British soldier killed in Korean War

All Headlines 17:11 May 04, 2011

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea handed over the remains of a British soldier killed in the Korean War six decades ago to his native country, Pyongyang's state media said Wednesday, in a rare humanitarian gesture toward Britain.

The remains of Desmond Fredrick William Hinton were returned to the British side through the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Kate English, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Seoul, confirmed that British officials received the remains of someone who North Korea believes was a British serviceman who served in the 1950-53 Korean War.

She did not give any personal information and said it could take some time before forensic analysis is completed to identify the remains.

It is the second time for North Korea's military to send back the remains of a dead British soldier. In 1995, North Korea returned the remains of J. Edmuns, a second-class private of the British Army, according to the KCNA.

Britain sent 58,000 troops to the U.S.-led U.N. forces that fought alongside South Korea during the Korean War against invading troops from North Korea and its ally China. The war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides still technically at war.

Britain is one of the European countries that has diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Britain expressed deep gratitude to North Korea over the repatriation of the remains and said that "such cooperation would mark a good occasion in developing the relations between the two countries," the KCNA said.

The North's military also said it will cooperate in unearthing and sending back remains in the future, the KCNA said, without elaborating on whether it will also excavate the remains of American soldiers.

The U.S. retrieved the remains believed to be those of 229 U.S. soldiers in North Korea between 1996 and 2005. U.S. operations in the North have been suspended since 2005 because of tension over the North's nuclear ambitions.

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