U.S., North Korea meet over return of war remains

Charlene Craig
July 19, 2018

The preliminary details emerged after USA and North Korean officials held working-level talks Monday in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Graham said: "I see China's hands all over this", adding that there is "no doubt" in his mind that China is "pulling the North Koreans back".

The two countries - which are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty - will also march together at the opening and closing ceremonies for the showpiece event from August 18-September 2. But a USA military official familiar with the matter said last month it was not clear what North Korea might hand over.

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 United States claim that security arrangement for its personnel working in the North was insufficient.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after a visit to North Korean capital Pyongyang earlier this month that the meeting would take place Thursday - but the Hermit Kingdom's delegation never showed up. 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.

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A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Seoul was not available for comment.

The Hawaii-based DPAA says it has family reference samples for more than 90 percent of the missing servicemembers. The war killed millions, including 36,000 American soldiers.

The North then suggested holding general-level talks with the US-led United Nations Command, and Washington agreed.

It's the first time in nine years the countries held "general officer-level talks" together. The official told Stars & Stripes that a US delegation was expected to retrieve the remains in North Korea and fly them out on July 27, either to Osan Air Base in South Korea or to Hawaii.

The amnesty will take effect on August 1, the report said, noting the cabinet and relevant organs will take practical measures to help the released people settle down to a normal working life.

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The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan and spoke on the condition of anonymity, cautioned that the timing and the number of remains could still change.

South Korean authorities said recovering the remains of US soldiers "was the sole topic for this meeting".

The estimated population of North Korea's prison and gulag system is believed to be around 200,000 men, women and children, according to rights groups, with most held for political and not criminal reasons.

U.S. secretary Pompeo claims progress has been made in setting a timeline for the North's denuclearization.

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