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U.S., N. Korea still in talks to set date for meeting over repatriation of American troop remains: source

2018/07/12 18:02

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SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- The United States and North Korea are still in talks to set a date for working-level dialogue over the repatriation of remains of American troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, a diplomatic source here said Thursday.

The two sides were expected to meet at the inter-Korean border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday to hash out the details of the repatriation, but the talks did not occur.

"The U.S. side had had discussions with the North with an aim to hold the talks as early as July 12, but it appeared that the North was not ready for the talks," the source told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

"The two sides are currently communicating to determine when to meet. There appears to be a possibility that the U.S. could make some announcement soon," he added.

At the June 12 Singapore summit, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un committed to recovering the remains of fallen American troops, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

On June 23, the U.S. Forces Korea said that it had moved 100 wooden "temporary transit cases" to the border to prepare for the remains' delivery. Separately, it has moved 158 metal coffins to Osan Air Base in Gyeonggi Province.

Observers said the repatriation, should it materialize, could give a boost to the Washington-Pyongyang talks on denuclearization.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to make any significant progress in fleshing out the North's denuclearization process during his third visit to Pyongyang last week.

Earlier in the day, an official at Seoul's foreign ministry voiced expectation that the June summit agreement, including the repatriation, can quickly be enforced so as to achieve the goal of the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

Since 1990, the communist state has reportedly returned 629 sets of remains to the U.S.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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