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US-led command hands over remains of North Korean soldier

United Nations Command troops hand over the remains of a North Korean soldier in the truce village of Panmunjom, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

COURTESY OF U.N. COMMAND

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 14, 2018

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S.-led United Nations Command has returned the remains of a North Korean soldier more than a year after they were found near a border island.

The repatriation came as communication lines have been restored and relations improved amid diplomatic efforts over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

UNC troops handed over a case with the remains to North Koreans on Tuesday in the truce village of Panmunjom, which straddles the heavily fortified border.

South Korean sailors found the body in May 2017 near Yeonpyeong Island, which sits near a sea border off the peninsula’s west coast. But the UNC said it had been unable to arrange the handover until recently.

“Previous attempts to arrange repatriation failed over the last year, but after dialogue between delegations (from both sides) the ceremony was held with dignity and respect,” the UNC said in a statement.

The UNC said it remains committed to the agreement to return fallen servicemembers that was part of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea also recently handed over to the United States 55 cases said to contain the remains of U.S. troops killed in the war. That move partially fulfilled a commitment made by its leader, Kim Jong Un, during his June 12 summit with President Donald Trump.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

United Nations Command troops prepare to hand over the remains of a North Korean soldier in the truce village of Panmunjom, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.
COURTESY OF U.N. COMMAND

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