Pyongyang refuses to show up at war remains talks

Communist dictator Kim Jong-un agreed to hand over the remains of an unknown number of American soldiers killed during the active period of the Korean War (1950-1953) during his June summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"I extend my conviction that the epochal progress in promoting the DPRK-US relations will bring our next meeting forward", Kim concludes, using the abbreviation for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

Kim Boo-kyum, minister of the interior and safety, said the suspension of the civilian drills was a follow-up to the suspension of the military exercises amid recent changes in "South-North relations and other security situations".

Pompeo, speaking Wednesday to reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a NATO summit with President Donald Trump, said that change was up to North Koreans.

At high-level talks last week, North Korea and the USA confirmed they are still poles apart on the next steps to be taken in the process.

North Korean officials skipped planned talks on repatriating the remains of American war dead Thursday in the latest snub of a USA administration eager to show progress on efforts to rid the communist state of nuclear weapons.


The US military has since announced that 100 wooden coffins have been moved to the inter-Korean border in preparation.

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

In the meantime, satellite images of a missile-manufacturing facility in the city of Hamhung showed North Korea is expanding its ballistic weapons program. As the war was fought on Korean soil, however, only North Korea has remains to return.

However, recovery efforts were suspended when the relationship between both countries worsened, as the North began the advancement of its nuclear programme.

More than 36,000 USA troops died in the three-year war, which ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula divided by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders.

"North Korea would have to deal with the consequences of breaking away from the negotiations if it were to do so, so it will likely not make an extreme decision", Kim said.

The agency also says that North Korean officials have indicated they have "as many as 200 sets of remains" already recovered that could be ready for return.

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