South Korean President Park Geun-hye offered Saturday to return hundreds of sets of remains of Chinese troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, her spokeswoman said, in a symbolic gesture of friendship toward a former battlefield foe.
Park made the offer during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong at Beijing's Tsinghua University right before delivering a speech at the alma mater of Chinese President Xi Jinping, presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing told reporters.
Kim made the announcement in the ancient city of Xian, the second leg of Park's four-day state visit to China.
"This year marks the 60th anniversary of the (Korean War) armistice," Park was quoted by the spokeswoman as saying. "There are 360 sets of remains of Chinese soldiers in South Korea. The South Korean government has taken good care of them, but the bereaved families in China must be waiting for their return, and we would like to repatriate the remains."
Liu expressed gratitude, saying the offer well conveys Park's friendship toward China, according to the spokeswoman.
"The families are waiting for them. I will immediately report this to President Xi Jinping," the spokeswoman quoted Liu as telling Park.
During the Korean War, China fought alongside North Korea against the U.S.-backed Allied Forces. History records show that more than 1 million Chinese soldiers were killed in the three-year war.
Since 1981, a total of 403 sets of remains of Chinese troops have been unearthed in South Korea, with 43 sets already repatriated via the U.N. Military Armistice Commission that supervises the cease-fire.
The remaining 360 sets are buried at a cemetery in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap News)