Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP

Mattis hails return of US remains from North Korea

July 27, 2018 - 2:29 pm

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that North Korea's return of remains from the Korean War sets a ``positive tone'' for diplomacy on other issues, such as the denuclearization negotiations.

Mattis said that future efforts to send more search teams into North Korea to locate additional remains are under consideration.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Friday, Mattis said the transfer of 55 cases of remains ``sets a positive environment'' and is a humanitarian act that ``is a step in the right direction.''

A U.S. military plane flew to Wonsan, North Korea, on Friday to pick up what are believed to be the remains of U.S. service members killed in the War. 

Mattis said it took coordination over the last month with the North Koreans to determine where the remains would be delivered and where the U.S. plane would land.

The handover follows through on a promise North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made to President Donald Trump when the leaders met in June and is the first tangible result from the much-hyped summit. Trump welcomed the repatriation and thanked Kim in a statement Friday at the White House.

The 55 cases of remains are to be honored at a ceremony next Wednesday at a base in South Korea.

The remains are expected to be transferred to a base in Hawaii for verification sometime after Wednesday's ceremony.

Trump said Friday that he wanted to thank Kim in front of the news media for ``keeping his word.''