N. Korea to Halt Excavation of U.S. War Dead

From Associated Press

North Korea, accusing Washington of not paying enough for the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War, said Saturday that it will dissolve an excavation team assigned to the task.

U.S. officials believe the remains of as many as 3,500 American servicemen killed in the 1950-53 war are recoverable.

Representatives from the Pentagon’s office of POW-MIA affairs met North Korean delegates in Hawaii earlier this month, but the three-day talks fell through, reportedly over differences in payments for 162 sets of U.S. remains returned in 1993-94.


James Wold, head of the Pentagon office, said Washington offered more than $1 million for the 162 sets, hoping that would open the door to future cooperation. North Korea reportedly demanded $4 million.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, quoting an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman, accused Washington of being ungrateful and cheap.

“The U.S. side should have been grateful . . . and made a compensation at the talks, out of courtesy, for the labor, materials, equipment and facilities made by [North Korea] for the unearthing of the remains of GIs,” the news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

The spokesman said the talks resulted in a “rupture in the long run.”

In Hawaii, the U.S. had hoped to persuade the North Koreans to permit U.S. specialists into the Communist country to help locate, excavate and transport remains.

Officially, about 8,100 U.S. servicemen remain unaccounted for from the war, in which more than 50,000 Americans died. Not all the missing are recoverable. Only five of the 208 sets of remains returned this decade were in good enough condition to identify.