Will talks resume on Korean War remains recovery soon?

Elizabeth Howe
July 17, 2019 - 2:03 pm

Photo courtesy of DVIDS

In May, the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was forced to suspend its efforts to recover the remains of American troops killed in North Korea after the country failed to communicate how those remains should be recovered. 

Efforts to recover American remains from North Korea suspended

Now, the National League of POW/MIA Families is hopeful that those talks may soon resume. 

"Though there still is no clarity on when/whether agreement to restore remains recovery operations in North Korea will occur, but there is ongoing speculation and the subject is reportedly high on the agenda as it is something about which both leaders agree should be pursued on a separate humanitarian basis, regardless of political and/or policy differences," the organization said in a recent news release. "It is hoped that working-level talks to work out modalities of in-country cooperation can resume soon and the work proceed before the frozen ground precludes such field recoveries." 

President Trump's mention of the remains recovery effort at the Singapore Summit indicates that it is a high priority for the current administration, according to National League of POW/MIA Families chairman of the board and CEO Ann Mills-Griffiths. 

"The fact that it was made a priority and highly visible due to the president including the remains recovery effort in the Singapore summit — that established the issue once again as a priority in dealing with the North Koreans," said Mills-Griffiths. "But what it did more than anything was create a humanitarian channel where communication could continue regardless of other differences, either policy or political, between the countries."

It would be in North Korea's best interest, Mills-Griffiths continued, to use that channel. 

"They know it's there. They know they would receive high praise for doing so. It seems kind of self-defeating not to with the visibility that it would have, and it certainly would be something that would be welcomed by the American veterans community as well as the directly affected families. It's one of those win-win-win-win-win situations." 

"I just hope that all parties will get that agreement and get to work on it," Mills-Griffiths said. "The years are swiftly passing, and immediate family members are dying. And so are veterans from the Korean Wars, so the sooner the better."

Last July, North Korea returned 55 cases of remains to the United States — with one set of identifying dog tags. It is believed the remains of 5,300 Americans remain in North Korea. 

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