The American military command in South Korea is preparing for the North Koreans to turn over the remains of an unknown number of US or allied service members who have been missing since the Korean War, US officials said Tuesday. Officials say the timing of a ceremony is uncertain, but could be very soon. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the preparations before an official announcement so spoke on condition of anonymity. The remains are believed to be some or all of the more than 200 that the North Koreans have had for some time. But the precise number and the identities—including whether they are US or allied service members—won't be known until the remains are tested, the AP reports.
President Trump raised the likelihood of the repatriation of remains last week after his summit meeting with Kim Jong Un. "We're getting the remains, and nobody thought that was possible," Trump said. Richard Downes, executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, said he has since been told the North may have the remains of more than 200 American service members that were likely recovered from land during farming or construction and could be easily returned. But he said the vast majority have yet to be located and retrieved from various cemeteries and battlefields across the countryside. More than 36,000 US troops died in the conflict, including those listed as missing in action. Close to 7,700 US troops remain unaccounted for, and about 5,300 of those were lost in North Korea.
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