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U.S. yet to confirm no. of war dead remains returned from N. Korea

All News 07:04 August 04, 2018

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- The United States has yet to confirm how many sets of war dead remains are contained in the 55 boxes repatriated by North Korea last week, the Pentagon has said.

North Korea returned what is believed to be the remains of American soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War as part of an agreement reached by its leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump at their historic summit in June.

The remains were flown to Hawaii Wednesday to undergo forensic identification at a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) lab there.

Speaking to reporters via videoconference Thursday, Dr. John Byrd, director for DPAA Laboratories, said it was unclear how many sets of remains were returned.

"In the boxes are human remains. That was confirmed in Wonsan before we actually loaded the boxes onto the C-17 to return to Osan," he said, referring to when the boxes were airlifted from Wonsan, North Korea, to Osan, South Korea, on a U.S. military aircraft.

North Korean officials at the scene said the remains appeared to be American from the Korean War, Byrd said.

"They also, though, were clear with us that they couldn't be sure how many individuals were represented in each box," he added. "And it's a little bit of a complicated scientific process to determine how many individuals you have when you have skeletal remains that are often fragmented, and in some cases, not well preserved."

It was "not an unreasonable candid supposition" for the North Koreans to make "that they weren't sure how many individuals are represented in the 55 boxes," according to Byrd.

Upon further analysis in Osan, the DPAA determined that the remains appeared to be from the Korean War and likely to be of missing American troops.

The U.S. estimates that more than 5,000 missing American soldiers have yet to be recovered in North Korea.

Trump and Kim agreed at their summit to resume operations to recover and repatriate the remains as part of a broader deal centered on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.


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