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Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 10:56 GMT
N Korea and US extend MIAs search
Madeleine Albright and Kim Jong-il
Relations have warmed between the US and N Korea
The United States and North Korea have agreed to expand the hunt for the remains of thousands of American servicemen who went missing in the Korean War.

The agreement significantly expands the size of the US teams now working in North Korea, as well as the duration and extent of their search.

The Americans have been allowed to search for remains since 1994, but the operation has gathered momentum since Pyongyang launched a diplomatic initiative earlier this year to end its international isolation.

More than 8,100 American servicemen are listed as missing in action during the 1950-53 war, and so far search teams have recovered what are believed to be the remains of 107 US war dead.

Shallow graves

After four days of talks in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, negotiators agreed that 10 joint search operations will take place in 2001, each lasting 32 days.

Repatriating war dead from Vietnam
The US spends millions in the search for its war dead
The negotiators also agreed for the first time to search areas around the Chosin Reservoir, 50 miles north of Pyongyang, where US officials hope to recover the remains of 1,000 servicemen.

Chosin was the site of some of the fiercest fighting during the war. Late in 1950, thousands of Chinese soldiers bombarded US units near the reservoir. The Americans retreated, leaving behind many dead buried in shallow graves.

During five expeditions this year, the joint teams have recovered 65 sets of remains, and 42 have been discovered over the past four years.

Five have been positively identified - with another 10 nearing the final stages of identification.

The US has reportedly spent about $100m each year over the past five years in its attempt to locate servicemen missing in action during World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

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See also:

11 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Searching for MIAs in Vietnam
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea attacks 'airspace violation'
14 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
US Korean war dead returned
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
US warms to new Korean era
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