The US military says it has identified the remains of two additional American service members turned over by North Korea as part of the transfer of 55 cases last August after the first summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
To date, six service members have been identified since North Korea delivered the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War, Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman, a spokesman for the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, told reporters traveling with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as he visited the agency’s facility in Hawaii.
The names of the two who were identified recently have not yet been released, to allow their relatives to be notified first.
While Trump had hailed Pyongyang’s cooperation over the return of the remains as an important outcome of the Singapore summit, North Korea halted that cooperation after the second summit between Trump and Kim ended abruptly last winter in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Despite North Korea’s unwillingness to cooperate, the Trump administration continues to tout the return of the remains as a major accomplishment.
Vice President Mike Pence brought up North Korean efforts to return the remains during his Memorial Day speech to commemorate fallen service members.
“Last June, at his first historic summit in Singapore, with Chairman Kim Jong Un, President Trump had our missing fallen on his heart,” Pence said Monday during remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.
“And as he began negotiations for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Donald Trump also secured a promise for the return of the remains of all fallen US service members lost in North Korea.”
“I can assure you, and assure all of the families of our missing fallen, we will never rest until every soldier is accounted for and resting on American soil,” Pence added.
His comments came after the President said during his trip to Japan that he wasn’t “personally bothered” by North Korea’s recent missile tests.
The US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told CNN earlier this month that the effort to recover additional remains had been suspended due to a lack of communication from North Korean officials following the second summit between the two leaders.
“DPRK officials have not communicated with DPAA since the Hanoi Summit,” said Chuck Prichard, a spokesman for the accounting agency.
“As a result, our efforts to communicate with the Korean People’s Army regarding the possible resumption of joint recovery operations for 2019 has been suspended,” he added.
More than 7,800 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to the agency.