Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The United Nations Command in South Korea made direct working-level contact with North Korea at Panmunjom on Tuesday to return what has been identified as a North Korea body.
The body had drifted across the maritime border to South Korea in 2017, floating past the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong-do, Yonhap reported.
Yeongpyeong-do is the island that was bombarded by North Korean artillery shells in 2010, killing four South Koreans and injuring 19.
"The U.N. Command and the North Korean military made working-level contact in order to repatriate the body of a North Korean resident, found last year by the South Korean navy near Yeonpyeong," an unidentified South Korean military official told Yonhap.
The North Koreans responded to the communication and the U.N. Commmand transferred the body to the North on Tuesday, the South Korean official said.
Working-level contact was successfully made between the two sides for the first time since July 16, when U.S. and North Korean officials held working-level talks regarding the return of U.S. troop remains from the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North Korean response to the U.N. Command marks progress -- previous calls to discuss the body's repatriation was turned down, according to Yonhap.
There are about 28,000 U.S. troops on the peninsula.
Easing of tensions has not meant a reduction in the number of U.S. military personnel, many of them who have relocated from the U.S. Eighth Army headquarters in Yongsan, Seoul, to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
Yonhap reported the defense authorization bill U.S. President Trump signed Monday includes restrictions against U.S. troop drawdown on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump said the $717 billion bill is the "most significant investment" in the U.S. military historically.