The US has sent North Korea 100 caskets ahead of the first reparations of US soldiers on Friday, local media reported. Once the remains arrive in the US, they will undergo an extensive analysis before DNA tests are done.
North Korea on Thursday said it would start returning the remains of some of the US soldiers killed in the Korean War, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
North Korea had accepted 100 wooden caskets, which were carried in two trucks, and the first transfer was due to be made on Friday to mark the 65th anniversary of the signing of the 1953 armistice that ended the war, Yonhap reported, citing diplomatic sources.
The reparations will see the remains airlifted from North Korea's Kalma Airport on the eastern coast to Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, before they are transferred to a forensic lab in Hawaii, it said.
A US military spokesman declined to comment on Yonhap's report, according to French news agency AFP.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said last week that the repatriations would begin soon, but did not confirm media reports that the first transfers of some 50-55 sets of remains would take place on July 27.
Remains to undergo 'in-depth assessment'
US broadcaster CNN earlier this week cited a US official as saying that Washington expected 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 handed over.
The remains, along with any military uniforms, identification tags or documentation, would then undergo an in-depth assessment by forensic specialists in the South Korean city of Osan, which could take up to five days.
A formal military ceremony at the airfield would then be conducted before the remains are flown to a US military laboratory in Hawaii for DNA analysis, CNN reported.
The repatriations of the remains of US soldiers was one of the agreements made at a landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.
law/rc (AFP, Reuters)