Aircraft carrying remains of US Korean War dead departs North Korea

Fifty-five sets of remains thought to be fallen US servicemembers have been repatriated from North Korea, according to United Nations Command.

The United Nations Command (UNC) in South Korea said 55 sets of remains were on board the plane.

Pompeo defended what he termed progress in talks with North Korea stemming from an unprecedented June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in sometimes testy exchanges with sceptical lawmakers from both parties.

US forensic specialists in Osan would then conduct a more in-depth assessment of the remains and any military uniforms, identification tags or documentation, a process that could take up to five days, followed by a formal military ceremony at the airfield.

Trump also dedicated a tweet to the North Korean leader to personally express his gratitude. North Korean veterans of the war, which left more than 1.2 million dead, will gather in Pyongyang for a conference.

North Korea has returned the suspected remains of more than 50 U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War, according to the White House, in the first step in implementing an agreement reached in a landmark summit in June.

The statement made clear that "the fundamental method to prevent such serious situations from taking place is for the North and the United States to scrap the armistice treaty as soon as possible and declare an end to the war". Still, it was one of the four pillars of Trump and Kim's joint declaration, and taking a first step to fulfill it will give the talks some much needed diplomatic momentum.

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United States forensic specialists are to conduct a more in-depth assessment of the remains as well as an examination of any military uniform, identification tags or documentation at Osan Air Base.

Efforts to recover American war dead had been stalled for more than a decade because of a standoff over North Korea's nuclear program and a previous USA claim that security arrangements for its personnel working in the North were insufficient.

Meeting North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Pyongyang on Thursday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said China supported the reconciliation process between the North and the United States, China's Foreign Ministry said. The group collected the remains of what were believed to have been 220 us soldiers. North Korea has recently started dismantling a missile-engine test site, as Trump said Kim promised he would during their summit meeting. Such missions had been held from 1996 until they were cancelled by President George W. Bush amid heightening tensions over the North's nuclear program in 2005.

"It is believed to have landed there an hour later", the official was quoted as saying.

"And I'm very hopeful that the North Koreans will continue to move toward honoring the commitment that Chairman Kim made" on repatriations, he said.

Trump has since erroneously stated that about 200 sets of remains had already been returned. Its officials also agreed to resume joint U.S. However, reviving it could complicate USA efforts to persuade countries around the world to maintain economic pressure on Pyongyang over its ballistic and nuclear programs.

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