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US Says North Korea Will Turn Over Remains of US Soldiers

The head of a U.S. delegation in North Korea says Pyongyang has agreed to turn over the remains of six U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War more than 50 years ago.

New Mexico state governor Bill Richardson released a statement Monday noting the agreement after meeting with General Ri Chan Bok - North Korea's commanding general at the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas.

Richardson said the general agreed to turn over the remains of the six soldiers to a U.N. commission on Wednesday.

The governor, a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, called the release a "positive gesture" by North Korea's government.

He said it will hopefully help heal the wounds from the Korean War and start a process to bring closure to the many American families awaiting word of their loved ones who perished in the war.

Richardson said the Korean People's Army is also turning over the identities of three of the six soldiers based on dog-tags found with their remains.

Richardson is leading a delegation that includes the Bush administration's former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, and the White House's top North Korea advisor, Victor Cha. North Korea invited the delegation, and the Bush administration endorsed the trip.

The armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953 contains provisions on the repatriation of remains from the conflict. The White House says the U.S. government has invested "considerable energy" persuading North Korea to adhere to those provisions.

On Wednesday, the delegation plans to travel to the South Korea's capital, Seoul.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.