Meeting on American War Remains Skipped by North Korea

Kim Jong Un inspects a potato flour factory

North Korea failed to show up Thursday for talks with USA officials on returning the remains of American war dead from the Korean War in the early 1950s, a new sign of tension between the two countries.

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".

The Americans called North Korean representatives and scheduled a generals' meeting between the two nations to take place Sunday.

"I extend my conviction that the epochal progress in promoting the DPRK-US relations will bring our next meeting forward".

When Trump and Kim held their historic summit in Singapore on June 12, Kim - in addition to promising, in vague terms, to work toward the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula - committed to returning the remains of USA troops recovered from major Korean War battle sites in his country, including the "immediate repatriation of those already identified".

Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement that the North has offered to meet the American delegation this Sunday.

While avoiding specifics about the status of diplomatic talks between the U.S. and North Korea, Kim's letter lavishes praise on Trump, repeatedly referring to the President as "Your Excellency".

"North Korea apparently wants a USA general to appear at the table to quickly finalize the repatriation issue", an anonymous source told JoongAng Ilbo.

Kim refers to Trump as "your excellency" five times, praises the "improvement of relations" between the US and North Korea, and expresses hope for a new future.

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North Korean officials denounced the meeting at its conclusion, accusing the US of having a "gangster-like" attitude in negotiations. But the agreement was terribly vague, and Trump ended up jettisoning a huge bargaining chip by voluntarily announcing an end to joint military exercises with South Korea, which always terrify North Korea.

"A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea", Trump said.

The USFK sent 100 wooden cases to the truce village of Panmunjeom to receive the remains last month, and also has 158 coffins ready at a base in Pyeongtaek to take the remains back to the U.S. Pyongyang has asked the UN Command Armistice Commission to upgrade the talks to a higher level to include a US general, South Korea's foreign ministry said.

Between 1996 and 2005, some 33 recovery operations were conducted in North Korea which saw 200 sets of remains returned.

An estimated 30,000 USA soldiers died in the 1950-53 Korean war.

The remark came as concerns have been growing about Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization after little progress was made in last week's first high-level nuclear negotiations between the North and the United States since their landmark summit last month.

However, the letter fails to mention anything related to denuclearization and despite Trump's claims to the contrary, Kim has still not publicly declared what he will or will not do in regard to his nuclear weapons program.

Hundreds of remains have been repatriated since 1990, but the process has been fraught with mistrust.

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