North Korea willing to resume U.S. missions to recover remains of MIAs

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Rick Downes' mission has brought him here, to the National Archives in suburban Washington, D.C. His goal: to find any records, information -- anything at all -- that would tell him what happened to his father.

Lt. Harold Downes was a navigator on a B-26 bomber when his plane went down over North Korea on January 13, 1952. Some of the crew ejected and were captured by the North Koreans. Downes was never seen again. He remains to this day one of the more than 8,000 U.S. servicemembers listed as "unaccounted for" from the Korean War, a conflict often referred to as the "forgotten war."

For the families of those unaccounted for, there used to be hope. Over the years, the United States and North Korea -- long-time adversaries -- had cooperated in efforts to look for remains of those missing in action. Beginning in 1996, North Korean and U.S. military teams conducted 33 joint recovery missions looking for remains inside North Korea. There was success, too -- 229 sets of remains were located, and brought out of the very reclusive country.

But all that changed in 2005 when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suspended the work, saying that due to rising nuclear tensions at the time, he felt the safety of the U.S. teams could not be guaranteed. At the time it seemed fairly routine.

But neither the Bush nor Obama administrations reinstated the effort, and now it's the North Koreans who are trying to get the program restarted....

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