North Korea on Friday handed over the remains of some USA soldiers who died during the 1950-53 Korean War, giving new momentum to a diplomatic detente that had shown signs of stalling in recent weeks.
More than 400 caskets of remains found in North Korea were returned to the United States between the 1990s and 2005, with the bodies of some 330 other Americans also accounted for, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
The remains are expected to stay at the air base for several days until a repatriation ceremony on August 1.
Soldiers in dress uniforms with white gloves were seen slowly carrying 55 small cases covered with the blue-and-white United Nations insignia, placing them one by one into silver vans waiting on the tarmac in Osan.
CNN, citing a US official, reported earlier this week that Washington expects to receive an initial 55 sets of remains and planned to send officials to North Korea to open and photograph each casket as part of a "cursory review" of what the North Koreans turned over.
According to the DPAA, about 7,700 USA troops are still listed as missing from the war; about 5,300 of that total are believed to have fallen in North Korea.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday, Pompeo said the North Koreans recently "reaffirmed their commitment to return remains that they have in their possession, as well as to begin to work on - there's an agreement that had been in place previously about how we would conduct recovery operations inside of North Korea".
Despite an eventual cease fire in 1953, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States are technically still at a state of war. It will help heal the pain of so many American families who still await closure on their missing relatives from the Korean War.
"Progress is happening. We need Chairman Kim Jong-un to follow through on his commitments made in Singapore".
Friday is the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement. However, he did not respond when asked by Senator Bob Menendez whether Pyongyang agreed with the USA definition of denuclearisation, except to say he was fully confident North Korea understood this.
About 7,700 Americans remain unaccounted for after the Korean War, the Pentagon says, including 5,300 thought to have been killed in the North.
The North Koreans scheduled a meeting with American officials for June 12 to discuss the delivery of the remains, but did not arrive in Panmunjom, leaving the Americans stranded. "We are encouraged by North Koreas actions and the momentum for positive change".
The Korean Peninsula could "spiral toward the brink of war" unless the United States agrees to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, the North's state-controlled propaganda outlet said Thursday. -North Korean searches at major battle sites in the North to recover more remains.
"The adoption of the declaration on the termination of war is the first and foremost process in the light of ending the extreme hostility and establishing new relations between the DPRK and the USA", the North's Korean Central News Agency said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Washington has maintained Pyongyang wouldn't get sanctions relief and significant security and economic rewards unless it firmly commits to a process of completely and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons.