U.S.-North Korea Strike New Deal on MIA Operations
U.S. and North
Korean negotiators agreed Wednesday to improve markedly several
areas of cooperation in operations to recover the remains of American
soldiers missing in action from the Korean War.
in Bangkok, Thailand, both sides agreed to resume repatriating
remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea
across the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom. This practice has
not occurred since 1999. U.S. team members will accompany the
remains into South Korea. Additionally, supplies and equipment
for the 2004 operations will be moved by ground transportation
across the DMZ.
am encouraged by the level of cooperation the North Koreans demonstrated
during these talks,” said Jerry D. Jennings, deputy assistant
secretary of defense for POW/missing personnel affairs. “We
accomplished much at no additional cost to the U.S. government,
and these new procedures will streamline the process of getting
our teams in and out of North Korea, and bringing our fallen heroes
back home to their families.”
led Wednesday’s talks, as well as those in November, where
broad terms were set for five recovery operations and a period
of unilateral and joint investigations prior to the excavations.
The five operations will be centered in the areas of Unsan County,
about 60 miles north of Pyongyang, and near the Chosin Reservoir
in the northeast part of North Korea.
For the first
time, the North Korean side also agreed to present to their senior
leaders a proposal to establish a single point of contact to resolve
reports of Americans living in North Korea. In the past, the North
Koreans refused to even broach the subject denying that any Americans
missing from the Korean War are still alive in the North. “This
doesn’t resolve the live sighting issue in North Korea,
but at least this time they agreed to discuss it and consider
our request,” said Jennings.
United States has conducted remains recovery operations in North
Korea every year since 1996, more than 180 sets of remains believed
to be those of American soldiers have been recovered. More than
8,100 are still missing in action from the Korean War.