US, North Korea hold military talks after delay

19 July, 2018, 13:57 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • State Mike Pompeo adjusts his headphone during a news conference in Kabul Afghanistan

North and South Korea will field joint teams in the men's and women's doubles as well as the mixed doubles in the tournament to be held in the South's city of Daejeon from Tuesday to Sunday, Yonhap news agency said.

But the process has been slow, with the North Koreans keeping the USA -led United Nations Command on standby for weeks after the military sent dozens of temporary coffins to the DMZ in preparation. It would be the first time that the remains believed to be those of USA troops have been directly returned by North Korean officials in 13 years.

There's speculation that Pyongyang is trying to fast-track discussions on more critical issues, such as reaching a declaration to formally end the war, which stopped on an armistice and not a peace treaty. More than 36,000 USA service members died in the conflict.

Pompeo's statement came as USA officials held general-level talks with the North - the first such talks since 2009. The multinational but U.S. -led U.N. Command was formed during the Korean War and now helps maintain the armistice on the peninsula. There was no report on North Korean state media about the meeting.

South Korean media had speculated that the North would seek to tie the issue of returning war dead remains to other demands. While visiting Singapore, which hosted the summit between Trump and Kim last month, Moon said the two leaders would face "grave judgment" from the world if they do not live up to their promises.

More news: Trump on North Korea denuclearization: 'We have no time limit'

This meeting was aimed at fulfilling one of the commitments made by Chairman Kim at the Singapore Summit. The State Department later said the North Korean side had been in contact at midday to cancel that meeting Thursday and had suggested rescheduling to Sunday.

"Kim is probably hinting at changing his policy after confirming North Korea's economy has lots of problems during his inspection tours", said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.

It was reported that US forces readied some 100 wooden caskets at Panmunjom late last month to use in the event of recovering the remains from North Korea. The United States and North Korea have repatriated hundreds of remains since the 1990s, but the process has been fraught with difficulties and mistrust.

The Pentagon says Pyongyang has indicated several times they have as many as 200 sets of remains that could be those of United States soldiers who died in the war.

"I firmly believe that the strong will, honest efforts and unique approach of myself and Your Excellency Mr. President aimed at opening up a new future between the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the country's official name) and the U.S. will surely come to fruition", Kim wrote.

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