Washington resumes search for missing U.S. troops in North Korea.

This handout black-and-white handout photo, taken in the 1940s, provided…

This handout black-and-white handout photo, taken in the 1940s, provided by the family shows Robert Schmitt. AP Photo/David Nelson

Wounded in both legs and wearing a U.S. Army field coat peppered with bullet holes, 1st Lt. Robert Schmitt led a desperate U.S. hilltop assault against advancing Chinese forces in one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War. He never returned.

The hunt for thousands of fallen American troops like Schmitt, missing from a conflict fought six decades ago, is about to resume in North Korea as tensions ease between the wartime enemies.

A decade of search operations that led to the recovery and identification of 92 troops was suspended seven years ago, with the U.S. citing worries about the security of its personnel. That ended the only cooperation between the militaries of the two nations, which formally remain at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended with a cease-fire and armistice, not a formal peace treaty.

While Washington says the renewed search for remains is a purely humanitarian endeavor, the October resumption agreement, through which North Korea receives millions of dollars in compensation, comes amid intense efforts to coax the impoverished country into nuclear concessions. That culminated last week in a commitment by the North to freeze nuclear activities and allow international nuclear inspections in exchange for food aid.

Source: Matthew Pennington for the Associated Press.

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