Washington: North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with US officials at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that the North Koreans postponed the meeting the day it was supposed to take place, reports CNN.
Citing a senior North Korean official, Nauert said: “Vice Chairman Kim Yong-Chol agreed in his dialogue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to have his team meet with an American team on or about July 12 to move forward with the repatriation of American service members’ remains.”
“Mid-day, on July the 12th, they contacted us and offered to meet on Sunday, July 15,” Nauert said in a statement, adding “We’ll be ready”. Pompeo ignored a question about the apparent snub when asked by reporters travelling with him in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday. The development is likely to fuel growing scepticism over North Korea’s commitment to a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as promised during last month’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the successes of his historic June 12 summit with Kim. According to CNN, it was reported last month that the Trump administration is expecting North Korea to return up to 200 sets of remains and that planning for the exchange has been underway. About 100 wooden transport cases were sent to the DMZ in recent weeks to prepare for receiving US troop remains.