U.S. reaches deal with N. Korea to resume search for remains of American troops
WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials on Thursday announced plans to resume the search for missing U.S. troops declared missing or prisoners of war in North Korea, after successful negotiations with the government there.
Officials said the work will begin next year. It marks the first U.S. recovery efforts in North Korea since 2005, when Pentagon officials halted the work due to increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. recovery teams will work in two areas in North Korea’s Unsan County, about 60 miles north of Pyongyang and near the Chosin/Jangjin Reservoir. The bodies of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines are believed to be missing there.
An agreement reached between U.S. and North Korean officials following a three-day negotiation in China provides rules regarding how the search will be conducted and assurances for the safety of the American recovery teams.
In a statement, U.S. defense officials said that “accounting for Americans missing in action is a stand-alone humanitarian matter, not tied to any other issue between the two countries.”
From 1996 to 2005, specialists from the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command working in North Korea recovered the remains of more than 225 fighters believed to be missing U.S. personnel. More than 5,500 American troops who fought in the Korean War are believed to be missing in North Korea.