Military aircraft travels from North to South Korea, where it lands at Osan Air Base
Seoul: A US military aircraft carrying the remains of US Korean War dead collected in North Korea arrived in the South, live TV footage showed Friday.
The US military cargo plane landed around 2am GMT (6am UAE) at the Osan Air Base, where American soldiers were seen lining up for a ceremony.
Pyongyang agreed to return the remains after Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump’s historic June summit.
“Today’s actions represent a significant first step to recommence the repatriation of remains from North Korea and to resume field operations in North Korea to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who have not yet returned home,” the White House said in a statement.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the repatriations will begin soon, but did not confirm media reports about the first transfer of some 50 sets of remains.
The South Korean official cited by Yonhap said it was unclear how many sets of remains will be returned on Thursday.
US defence officials are expected to examine the remains in South Korea before sending them on for forensic identification in Hawaii, the agency added.
More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean Peninsula during the war, out of which around 7,700 are still considered missing, including 5,300 in North Korea alone, according to the Pentagon.
Between 1990 and 2005, 229 sets of remains from the North were repatriated, but those operations were suspended when ties deteriorated over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.