US Reschedules Meeting with North Koreans on Return of Troop Remains

Sunday, 15 Jul, 2018

Officers from the US and North Korea were scheduled to meet in the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday to discuss the handover of the remains of USA soldiers who died in the 1950-53 Korean War, but the North Koreans failed to show up.

Suga said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "drew in U.S. President Donald Trump and created a framework involving him to put pressure on North Korea".

South Korean officials later said the meeting would be rescheduled for July 15, but that was after USA negotiators arrived Thursday at the militarized border between the two Koreas and were kept waiting, the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing diplomatic officials it didn't identify.

President Donald Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the major achievements of his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

A US team went to Panmunjom Thursday for the meeting, arranged by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the North Koreans were no-shows.

"The US wanted to have talks as early as 12 July but the North did not seem to be ready", an unnamed Seoul official said.

But following the meeting, North Korea released a statement calling the meeting "regrettable" and accusing the U.S. of using "gangster-like" tactics to push it towards nuclear disarmament. -North Korea relations worsened over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Trump shared the letter in a tweet Thursday, writing, "A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea".

Following the reports, Trump had, however, expressed "confidence" that Kim would honour the contract they signed in Singapore. But the North Korean leader never showed up during Pompeo's three-day visit. About 100 wooden transport cases were sent to the DMZ in recent weeks to prepare for receiving U.S. troop remains.

More importantly, the letter from Kim, written for Trump before it became clear to North Korea that Pompeo's visit would be an unproductive farrago, is full of flattery. If that approach doesn't work with Kim, then it's pretty safe to say nothing will - and we haven't lost anything with this strategy even if that's the case.

Between 1996 and 2005, some 33 recovery operations were conducted in North Korea which saw 200 sets of remains returned. The U.S. Defense Department has estimated that 7,700 troops are still unaccounted for from the war, with 5,300 believed to have been killed north of the 38th parallel, the border between North and South Korea.

Kim added that with "the strong will, honest efforts and unique approach" by the two leaders a "new future" will happen, expressing optimism for the two countries and their relations.