Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

N. Korea skips meeting on repatriating the remains of American war dead

Mr Kim laughed as he inspected the potato farm Image Mr Kim laughed as he inspected the potato farm
Steven Clarke | 12 July, 2018, 20:38

North Korean negotiators failed to show up for scheduled talks with the U.S.at Panmunjeom, Thursday, on repatriating the remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, indicating a possible rift between the two countries in ongoing denuclearization talks.

Seoul's presidential office has said the suspension of the combined exercise could facilitate ongoing nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States.

"North Korea not showing up could be an expression of dissatisfaction toward the USA for making excessive demands in the high-level talks last week", Kyungnam University professor Kim Dong-yub said".

Officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency traveled to the United Nations -controlled area in the heavily fortified border for the meeting but the North Koreans never showed up, according to official sources.

Pompeo was in Pyongyang from Friday to Saturday to try to flesh out a bare bones denuclearisation deal made during last month's historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Organisers have also sought to invite several North Korean moviemakers but are waiting for official approval.

American officials have been on standby for weeks and have sent wooden coffins and flags to Panmunjom in preparation for a handover.

Parents Allowed to See Rescued Boys: Hospital
The head of the rescue team, Narongsak Osottanakorn, revealed yesterday that the cave will be turned into "a living museum". Thailand's junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday said the boys were given a "minor tranquiliser" to keep them calm.

The two countries technically remain in conflict after the 1950-53 Korean War ended without a peace treaty, and all cross-border civilian contact - including trips, letters, or emails - are banned unless endorsed by both governments.

When Trump announced the USA would halt joint military drills with South Korea, he backed his controversial move by citing the "tremendous" costs of such exercises.

There is speculation that North Korea may also want payment for the return of the remains, our correspondent says.

Now, however, the mood in Pyongyang appears to be more conciliatory, with Kim keen for another meeting with Trump.

According to estimates from the Pentagon, 7,700 USA troops are still unaccounted for from the Korean War.

That number includes 7,702 who are missing in action, with an estimated 5,300 believed to have been lost in the North, according to the Hawaii-based DPAA, which oversees the effort.

Shortly after the apparent setback was reported, President Trump tweeted the translation of a letter he had received from Mr Kim, in which the North Korean leader said: "I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr President".

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