Washington, Sep 12: Defence Secretary James Mattis has revealed that the United States has identified two sets of Korean War remains among those that had been returned by Pyongyang over a month ago.
The identities of the two sets of remains were confirmed through a DNA sample, chest X-rays and dental records, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Chief Scientist John Byrd told the Military Times. The families of the dead would be notified first, he said.
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Richard Downes, whose father, Air Force Lt. Hal Downes, is among the Korean War missing, said this turnover of remains, having drawn worldwide attention, has the potential to put the USA back on track to finding and eventually identifying many more. Nevertheless, the Forensic anthropologists are now combing all the remains in a secure facility in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
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Between 1996 and 2005, the USA worked with North Korea and recovered around 400 caskets of remains, though Washington halted the cooperation in 2005 as it could not guarantee the safety of its personnel.
"It's a huge battle", said Jin, who estimated that 1,700 of the missing USA forces from the Korean War came from that fight alone. The Defense Department laboratory in Hawaii is working to identify them.
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A United Nations Command delegation led by US Air Force Major General Michael Minihan met with North Korean officials at Panmunjom Friday to discuss "military-to-military efforts to support any potential future return of remains", AFP reported Tuesday. Jennie Jin and Byrd, who were the coordinators at the Korean War agency's Project, elaborated and said that the identification process is painstaking which also includes finding DNA from within the bone fragments.