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N. Korea likely to return remains of U.S. troops this week: source

All Headlines 08:47 July 26, 2018

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea seems to have completed preparations for the transfer of the remains of American service members killed in the Korean War, as it has received wooden boxes from the United States, a diplomatic source in Seoul said Thursday.

"North Korea recently took two truckloads of wooden boxes to be used for the remains repatriation. It's expected to hand over the remains on July 27 as agreed upon," the source said.

On Friday, the two Koreas and the U.S. commemorate the 65th signing anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the three-year conflict.

The U.S.-led United Nations Command had stored the boxes at the border village of Panmunjom for weeks.

If the North returns the remains, it would be a concrete measure to follow up on the Singapore summit deal between President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un.

It would represent another feat for Trump and could be conducive to building mutual trust and stimulate the slow-moving denuclearization process.

Earlier this week, CNN reported that a group of U.S. Defense Department officials is expected to visit South Korea soon to assist with the remains return.

They apparently include representatives from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), who will likely travel to the North for an initial inspection.

The U.S. is planning to pick up the remains at the North's Kalma Airport along its east coast and move them to Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, by plane, where a ceremony is to take place, according to the source.

The remains will then be airlifted to a forensic lab in Hawaii.

The North and the U.S. had military talks on the remains issue at Panmunjom earlier this month.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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