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N. Korea Returning GIs’ Remains

May 14, 1999

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) _ North Korea returned the remains today of what are believed to be six U.S. soldiers killed nearly a half-century ago during the Korea War.

About 30 visiting American veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War saluted as the remains contained in aluminum caskets were handed over at the border village of Panmunjom.

Four North Koreans clad in civilian clothes handed each casket over to U.N. honor guards. Once transferred, the caskets were draped with U.N. flags as a military chaplain read verses from the Bible. The remains were being sent to a U.S. Army laboratory in Hawaii for possible identification.

The soldiers are believed to have served with the U.S. Army’s 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, the U.S. military command in Seoul said.

U.S. officials said the remains were discovered by a joint U.S.-North Korean search team within the last month along the Chong Chon River, 100 miles north of Pyongyang, the North’s capital. The U.S. Eighth Army and Chinese communist forces fought in the area in November 1950, they said.

The recovery was the first of six joint searches scheduled for this year and the 10th since collaborations began in 1996. In all, the joint searches have yielded 35 sets of remains believed to be U.S. soldiers. Three have been identified.

More than 50,000 U.S. soldiers were killed in the war between the U.N forces, led by the United States, and Chinese-backed North Korea. About 8,100 of them remain unaccounted for.

U.S. officials said the remains of 1,000 to 3,500 missing American soldiers may be recoverable in North Korea.

Washington has said that recovering the U.S. war dead from the Korean conflict is a key factor in improving ties between North Korea and the United States.

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