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President Donald Trump on Thursday identified the names of two U.S. soldiers who served in the Korean War, in what marks the first tangible results to come from June's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, 32, of Vernon, Indiana, and Army Pfc. William H. Jones, 19, of Nash County, North Carolina, are the first American remains from North Korea to be identified as a result of my Summit with Chairman Kim," Trump wrote in tweets Thursday. "These HEROES are home, they may Rest In Peace, and hopefully their families can have closure."
Trump's tweets came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a 2021 deadline for denuclearization negotiations with North Korea. The chief U.S. diplomat's statement came a day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea's Kim met in Pyongyang to discuss the next steps in their peace process.
In July, the North Korean government handed over what they claim are American remains in 55 boxes. The boxes, draped in United Nations flags, were then flown from the Korean Peninsula to a military laboratory in Hawaii for analysis and identification.
On the ground to verify the transition of the remains was Dr. John Byrd, who heads the analysis effort for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, the Pentagon unit tasked with identifying the remains.
"The North Korean officials that we spoke to were very forthcoming and candid with us and a couple of things they told us was that these were remains believed to be American and from the Korean War," Byrd told reporters at the Pentagon in August.
"They also, though, were clear with us that they couldn't be sure with how many individuals were represented in each box," Byrd added.
Kelly McKeague, director of the DPAA, was also on hand to brief reporters on the identification process.
"One [question] that none of us have been able to get a definitive answer to is how many they [North Koreans] possess," McKeague said in regard to the potential U.S. remains held in that country.
Byrd noted that each box was accompanied by a paragraph of text in Korean that included information such as dates and geographical locations. During Byrd's preliminary assessment he found the remains were "consistent" with being those of Americans and from the Korean War.
Approximately 7,700 U.S. soldiers are listed as missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.