North Korea Didn’t Show for Talks About Returning Remains of US War Dead
North Korea skipped an important meeting with U.S. officials at the DMZ Thursday in another blow to diplomacy following a setback this past weekend.
During Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two-day trip to Pyongyang over July 7 and 8, the two sides agreed to meet on July 12 at Panmunjom at the inter-Korean border to discuss the return of remains of U.S. war dead, something North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to in Singapore. The meeting never materialized, according to Stars and Stripes.
U.S. officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency showed up at the DMZ Thursday morning, but North Korea never showed, according to South Korean media. The meeting was intended to boost bilateral trust and confidence as the two sides prepare to tackle larger issues, such as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
There is the possibility the meeting will take place at a later date.
American military personnel moved coffins to the inter-Korean border weeks ago in preparation for the transfer of the remains, but North Korea has yet to fulfill the promises made at the Singapore Summit one month ago.
The no-show will like further raise questions about North Korea’s commitments, especially since the assurance that North Korea would return American war dead was the only concrete achievement of the June 12 summit.
Pompeo’s latest meeting was also problematic. While the secretary insisted that “a great deal of progress was made,” North Korea called the meeting “regrettable” and condemned the U.S. attitude as “cancerous.”
Furthermore, while a meeting with Kim Jong Un was expected, the young despot did not sit down with Pompeo as he had done in the past. In fact, there is a possibility Kim was off inspecting potatoes at the time.
The North Korean papers included almost no mention of Pompeo’s visit. In the past, Pompeo’s picture was featured prominently alongside those of North Korean leadership. That was not the case this time.
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