North Korea on Friday handed over to the United States the remains of more than 50 soldiers killed in the Korean War from 1950-1953. The return of the remains was one of the points in an agreement between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at their summit in Singapore in June, said AFP.

Trump thanked Kim on Twitter.

The White House in a statement said it was “encouraged” by the return and the “momentum for positive change”, reported AFP. “Today’s actions represent a significant first step to recommence the repatriation of remains from North Korea and to resume field operations in North Korea to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who have not yet returned home.”

South Korea welcomed the move, saying it was a “meaningful progress that could contribute to fostering trust” between its northern neighbour and the US, reported Reuters.

A US military aircraft flew to an airfield in northeastern Wonsan and brought the remains to Osan air base in South Korea, Reuters quoted the White House statement as saying. Soldiers in uniform then carried 55 small cases covered with UN insignia and placed them into silver vans waiting on the tarmac. A formal repatriation ceremony will be held at Osan on Wednesday and the remains will then be flown to Hawaii for further processing under he US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Reuters quoted the UN Command as saying in a statement. The UN Command is the unified command for multinational military forces created to defend South Korea during the Korean war.

“It was a successful mission following extensive coordination,” AFP quoted General Vince Brooks as saying in a statement. Brooks is the commander of the UNC and United States Forces Korea.

More than 7,700 US troops who fought in the war are unaccounted for, said Reuters. About 5,300 of them disappeared in North Korea. The transfer of remains came on the 65th anniversary of the armistice that marked the end of hostilities between North Korean and Chinese forces on one side and South Korea and US-lead forces under the UN Command on the other.

From 1990 to 2005, 229 sets of remains from North Korea were repatriated. The operation was called off when bilateral ties between US and North Korea hit a wall over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.