- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2018

The U.S. military said Saturday that 100 wooden coffins were moved to the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea to prepare for the return of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War.

Despite the preparations, it was unclear when North Korea would transfer the remains form the 1950-53 war to U.S. custody.

The return of the fallen American servicemen would fulfill a commitment made by North Korea leader Kin Jong-un at June 12 Singapore summit with President Trump.

It also would be the first tangible evidence that Mr. Kim is carrying out the four-point agreement signed at the summit, which committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and improved U.S.-North Korea relations.

Mr. Trump said Thursday that the return of the remains was imminent.

“They’ve already sent back or are in the process of sending back the remains of our great heroes who died in North Korea during the war,” said Mr. Trump.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Col. Chad Carroll denied a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that U.S. military vehicles carrying more than 200 caskets were planning to cross into North Korea on Saturday.

He said plans for the repatriation were “still preliminary.”

U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement later in the day that 100 wooden “temporary transit cases” built in Seoul were sent to the Joint Security Area at the border as part of preparations to “receive and transport remains in a dignified manner when we get the call to do so.”

From 1996 to 2005, joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains.

But efforts to recover and return other remains have stalled for more than a decade because of the North’s nuclear weapons development and U.S. claims that the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W. Bush was not sufficiently guaranteed.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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