Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said he’s pleased North Korea has turned over 55 cases of remains of fallen U.S. service members from the Korean War, and looks forward to further negotiations to repatriate the remains of more fallen service members.
The secretary spoke to reporters this morning at the Pentagon before he welcomed Yusuf bin Alawi, Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, to the Pentagon.
Mattis said the North Korean gesture indicates the relationship between North Korea and the United States is thawing.
“The remains were turned over … as initiated during the summit that President [Donald J.] Trump had with Chairman Kim [Jong Un],” Mattis said. “It was a coordination effort over the past month to determine where they would deliver the remains to, and where our plane would fly in, where we would take them to for the initial review.”
‘A Step in the Right Direction’
The secretary added, “All of that went well. I think when you have that sort of communication going on it sets a positive environment and tone for other things in terms of international diplomacy. This humanitarian act is a step in the right direction.”
The secretary said negotiations are underway to have U.S. teams come to North Korea to search for more fallen U.S. service members’ remains.
Mattis said he is in constant contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on this matter and more. DoD is in a support role to the State Department in negotiations with North Korea, but all levels are informed and DoD personnel are integral to the team, he said.