Kim Jong-un blasts delays in North Korean economic projects

Jul 18, 2018, 03:28
Kim Jong-un blasts delays in North Korean economic projects

After their June 12 summit in Singapore, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had agreed to restart the repatriation process, and both signed a statement promising the "immediate repatriation of those already identified".

The U.S. and North Korea held talks on Sunday to discuss the return of more than 5,000 remains of U.S. service members still missing from the Korean War.

While U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently arranged working-level talks to handle the issue, the North Korean side elevated the dialogue to involve military generals.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, about 7,700 USA troops are still listed as missing from the Korean War, and about 5,300 of that total are believed to have fallen in North Korea.

Pompeo has described the commitment to recover the remains of US soldiers as "the most personally meaningful part of the agreement", between the USA and North Korea at the mid-June Singapore summit.

Thousands of Americans were believed to have been lost on the northern side of the heavily fortified border, which has divided the peninsula as the adversaries remain technically at war.

There was no immediate word from the US side, but South Korean media said that the USA team was led by Air Force Maj. It would be the first time that the remains believed to be those of US troops have been directly returned by North Korean officials in 13 years. Once a regular event that began in 1998 between a USAF major general and a North Korean lieutenant general, such a meeting has occurred 16 times.

North Korea and the United States conducted joint operations to recover the remains of US soldiers from 1996 to 2005 but stopped when their relations soured as Pyongyang accelerated its nuclear program. In 2013, the North severed its hotline with the UNC, declaring the armistice that ended the Korean War null and void.

Military officials have said they are on alert for the transfer of remains, with prearrangements made - including the storage of 100 wooden caskets at the Demilitarized Zone. Pompeo had flown to North Korea to gather the three men and escorted them home on a plane back to the U.S.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the North Koreans called around midday to say the meeting would be delayed until July 15.

The last time North Korea turned over remains was in 2007, when Bill Richardson, a former United Nations ambassador and New Mexico governor, secured the return of six sets.

Efforts to recover USA war remains have been stalled for more than a decade due to tensions over North Korea's nuclear program and a previous US claim that security arrangement for its personnel working in the North was insufficient.

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