A U.S. archival research team led by the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has entered North Korea to begin its work in the military museum in Pyongyang.
The five-person team was delayed one week from its scheduled entry of last Saturday. The team waited in Beijing, China, while U. S. and North Korean officials sought to resolve the issue of North Korea's refusal to repatriate remains believed to be American soldiers to a U. N. honor guard.
The U. S. and North Korea had reached agreement in 1997 to conduct five joint remains recovery operations during 1998. The first operation began in April and the remains recovered were to have been repatriated through the DMZ to a U. N. honor guard in mid-May. All other repatriations had been conducted with the U. N. honor guard in the DMZ.
Archival research was one element of the 1997 agreement. Last year, in a similar visit, researchers brought back documents from the Fatherland Liberation Museum relating to American POWs held during the Korean War. These documents are still being analyzed and are turned over to family members if they pertain to a named serviceman.
The next joint operation was scheduled to begin in North Korea today, however that operation has been postponed until the current problem can be resolved.