South Korea and China put aside a bitter diplomatic row over a US missile shield Wednesday and agreed to go ahead with the repatriation of the remains of Chinese soldiers killed during the Korean War.
The agreement came at talks between Chinese and South Korean military talks in Seoul, the South's defense ministry said. The remains of 20 Chinese soldiers would be sent home on March 20 for a final burial at their homeland.
The humanitarian project to repatriate the remains of Chinese soldiers excavated from the Korean War battlefields began in 2014 as a goodwill gesture to enhance relations between the two countries. So far South Korea has repatriated 541 sets of the remains, including 437 in 2014, 68 in 2015, and 36 last year.
Seoul's decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has soured relations between Beijing and Seoul. Beijing has taken a series of retaliatory measures, contending the US missile shield would "seriously" hurt strategic interests of China and the security balance in Northeast Asia.
Seoul and Beijing reached a consensus that the THAAD dispute should not torpedo their humanitarian project, the defense ministry said. China fought alongside North Korea in the 1950-53 conflict. South Korea has stepped up the excavation of Chinese soldiers killed on the southern side of the heavily armed border with North Korea.
Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org