In this image released by the US Department of Defense, United Nations Honor Guard member carries remains during a dignified return ceremony at Osan Air Base, in Pyeongtaek on July 27, 2018. A US military aircraft carrying the remains of US Korean War dead collected in North Korea arrived in the South on July 27, the 65th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting. / AFP PHOTO / US Department of Defense / Kelsey Tucker /
US President Donald Trump on Friday praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for “keeping his word” and handing over the remains of more than 50 American servicemen.
The US leader announced that Vice President Mike Pence would meet families of soldiers killed in the Korean war when the remains land back in the United States.
“I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word,” Trump said.
At a June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim agreed to “commit to recovering” the remains of US service members killed in the war of 1950-1953.
That is something that US veteran’s groups have long demanded.
More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean peninsula during the war, with 7,700 of these US troops still listed as missing in action — most of them in North Korea.
As a C17 carrying the remains landed in South Korea on Thursday, the White House announced that a formal repatriation ceremony will be held on August 1.
North Korea has previously been accused — most notably by the Japanese government — of faking the remains of foreign citizens and using them as a bargaining chip.
But with apparent North Korean commitments to quickly denuclearize faltering, the White House has welcomed the repatriation as evidence that the Trump-Kim summit was a success.
“We are encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change,” said White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders.