Tuesday 14 August 2018

Trump thanks Kim over remains, aims to meet again

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is greeted by the participants of a Korean War veterans’ meeting in Pyongyang. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is greeted by the participants of a Korean War veterans’ meeting in Pyongyang. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Dean Gray in Washington

Donald Trump, the US president, said he looked forward to meeting Kim Jong-un soon and thanked the North Korean leader for sending the suspected remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War back to the United States.

"Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong-un for keeping your word & starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen! I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action," Mr Trump wrote in a Twitter message.

"Also, thank you for your nice letter - I look forward to seeing you soon!" Mr Trump added, without elaborating.

The pledge to return the remains of US soldiers was made during a landmark summit between Mr Trump and Kim in June in Singapore, where North Korea committed to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Kim sent a letter to Mr Trump in mid-July in which the North Korean leader said he hoped there would be a second meeting between the two but it was unclear if that was the "nice letter" to which Mr Trump referred .

Mr Trump also took to Twitter earlier to praise an "incredibly beautiful ceremony" in Hawaii, where vice-president Mike Pence helped receive the remains.

The US said during a ceremony on Wednesday the human remains presumably included Americans killed in the Korean War and thanked North Korea for making good on its pledge to return them.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the Singapore summit and was the most concrete agreement reached.

"I think it's going to work out very well," he told supporters at a rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday night. "No tests, no rockets flying. But we'll see what happens."

"I know President Trump is grateful Chairman Kim has kept his word, and we see this tangible progress in our efforts to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula," said Mr Pence, whose father fought in the Korean War.

More than 7,700 US troops remain unaccounted for from the Korea War, about 5,300 lost in what is now North Korea.

Other countries under the command of the United Nations also lost troops still unaccounted for, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Experts say positively identifying the decades old remains could take anywhere from days to decades.

However, an initial field forensic review indicated the "remains are what North Korea said they were", John Byrd, director of analysis for the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, told reporters at an air base in South Korea before the remains were flown to Hawaii.

Irish Independent

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