Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

HEROES RETURN: Trump Thanks Kim for Returning Remains of US Soldiers

HEROES RETURN: Trump Thanks Kim for Returning Remains of US Soldiers

President Trump received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this week, . coinciding with the return of potentially dozens of America's war dead from the North.

Military pallbearers carry the remains of USA service members collected in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea during Repatriation ceremony after arriving to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii, Aug. 1 2018.

U.S. officials have been closely monitoring North Korea's willingness to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The latest letter from Kim arrived on the heels of concerns over North Korea's ballistic missile program and commitment to denuclearization.

Still, the initial field forensic review indicated the "remains are what North Korea said they were", Byrd said.

The remains are now "undergoing forensic analysis" at the lab in Hawaii, another official said, adding that the "guardedly optimistic" about the situation.

U.S. President Donald Trump shows the document, that he and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un signed acknowledging the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018.

More than 5,300 United States troops are still missing in North Korea.

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Meanwhile, the US says it is open to discussions about a second meeting between Trump and Kim, . although nothing has been planned yet. The site hosted a famous battle fought from November to December of 1950 during the Korean War.

Most of the remains returned to the USA were from the village of Sinheung Ri, near the Chosin Reservoir.

Byrd cautioned that the 55 boxes did not necessarily equate to the remains of 55 individuals.

He said numerous recovered remains likely belonged to U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the November, 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir - 1,024 Americans are still missing from that battle.

"Looking back on it, I would say it was challenging but very successful", said Byrd, who took part in the joint field operations that stretched from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.

McKeague said he was "guardedly optimistic" that the repatriation would be the "first step of others to account for our missing from the Korean War".

According to Byrd, the boxes contained items typical of what the agency normally recovers from battlefields - boots, canteens, buttons, buckles and pieces of uniforms.

Lab officials also will check to see whether any teeth are among the remains, and if so, compare them with a database of dental records of service members missing from the Korean War.

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