Trump, Kim Agree to Return US Military Remains From Korean War

The historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un was successful at reducing the risk of war, even as the joint statement resulting from it remained vague for the most part. A concrete result did come out of the meeting, though, and that is the agreement for North Korea to repatriate U.S. military remains from the Korea War in the 1950s.

It's one of the more actionable parts of the joint statement signed by the two leaders, in what was otherwise a document that's less about concrete steps towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and more about "diplomatic platitudes," as the New York Times described the document.

As a way to reduce the mounting risk of war between the two sides, it was a success in that regard. The talks may have resulted in little returns for the U.S., but president Trump looks to be satisfied with what they have agreed on so far.

"If I have to say I'm sitting on a stage with Chairman Kim and that's going to get us to save 30 million lives, maybe more than that, I'm willing to sit on the stage. I'm willing to travel to Singapore very gladly," Trump said.

Two tangible results so far can be seen from the joint statement. First is for Washington and Pyongyang to hold follow-up talks at the "earliest possible date." These will be held between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high North Korean official.

Second, North Korea has committed to recover and return the remains of U.S. soldiers who were presumed dead from the Korean War, which spanned 1950 to 1953, as the Military Times recalled.

It was something that U.S. military veterans have asked president Trump to bring up as a topic of priority in the summit. During that war, around 7,800 U.S. military personnel did not return home and were presumed missing in action.

Out of these, around 5,300 of them were lost in North Korea and presumed dead.

It's not the first time that the U.S. has arranged for the return of their remains. Between 1996 and 2005, search teams jointly made up of the U.S. and North Korean militaries have recovered 229 bodies, before North Korea's nuclearization campaign stalled the recovery efforts.

Washington's official reason for stopping the recovery operations, under the administration of president George W. Bush, was based on claims that the safety of U.S. search teams was not guaranteed, given that North Korea and the U.S. are still technically at war, and has ceased active hostilities through an armistice.

This new agreement could see these search operations resume after the follow-up meetings.

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