North Korea transferred 55 small, flag-draped cases carrying the suspected remains of US soldiers killed in the Korean War on Friday, officials said, a first step in implementing an agreement reached in a landmark summit in June, reports Reuters.
The repatriation of the remains missing in the 1950-53 conflict is seen as a modest diplomatic coup for US President Donald Trump as it was one of the agreements reached during his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore aimed primarily at securing the denuclearization of the North.
"After so many years, this will be a great moment for so many families. Thank you to Kim Jong Un," Trump wrote on Twitter.
A White House statement earlier said: "We are encouraged by North Korea's actions and the momentum for positive change."
A US military transport plane flew to an airfield in North Korea's northeastern city of Wonsan to bring the remains to Osan air base in South Korea, the White House statement said.
Soldiers in dress uniforms with white gloves were seen slowly carrying 55 small cases covered with the blue-and-white UN insignia, placing them one by one into silver vans waiting on the tarmac in Osan.
Straight-backed officers looked on next to the flags of the United States, South Korea and the United Nations.
A formal repatriation ceremony would be held at Osan on Wednesday, the White House said.
The remains would then be flown to Hawaii for further processing under the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the UN Command said in a statement.
Meanwhile, North and South Korea agreed to hold military talks on Tuesday, the South's Yonhap news agency reported on Friday, as both sides seek to defuse tensions amid a thaw in relations.
The general-level military talks would take place at the border village of Panmunjom within the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, Yonhap said on Friday, citing Seoul's defence ministry.
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