Seoul, Aug 1 (IANS) The UN Command, led by the US Army, on Wednesday held a solemn repatriation ceremony for the remains of 55 American soldiers who died in the 1950-53 Korean War.
The ceremony took place at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul, five days after Pyongyang allowed a US aircraft to carry back the remains from Wonsan in North Korea to South Korea, in a move expected to facilitate ongoing efforts to promote peace on the peninsula, Yonhap news agency said.
The repatriation was part of the June summit agreement between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which also included seeking to build “new” ties, fostering a “lasting and stable” peace regime and pursuing the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.
“The Korean War fallen have never been forgotten by the US nor the 16 other states that comprise the UN Command. UNC never leaves troops behind, living or deceased, and will continue the mission of repatriation until every Service Member returns home,” the UNC said in a statement.
Around 500 people took part in the ceremony, including UNC Commander Vincent Brooks, US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris and South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo.
After the ceremony, the remains would be taken to the headquarters of Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii for identification.
Since 1990, the remains of 629 US soldiers, who died in North Korea, were returned to their families, according to the UNC.
More than 36,000 US military personnel died in the Korean War and nearly 7,000 disappeared, out of which 5,300 are believed to have gone missing at the 38th Parallel North.
North Korea said it hopes that this gesture would help convince the US of the need for an imminent peace treaty to replace the armistice, which had ended the Korean War.
However, Washington has not yet committed fully to the peace treaty, maintaining that Pyongyang needs to take more concrete actions to show its commitment to the denuclearization of the regime as agreed during the Singapore summit.