Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Kim hopes for 'improvement of relations' with USA in letter to Trump

Gerardo Duncan | 13 July, 2018, 04:58

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to the "immediate repatriation" of remains that had already been identified (between 200 and 250 soldiers) during a June 12 meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Despite that, Trump hailed the July 6 letter as a "very nice note", saying "Great progress being made".

North Korea accused the United States on Saturday of making "gangster-like" demands in the talks in North Korea, contradicting Pompeo who said the old enemies had made progress.

"Denuclearization is something the North Koreans are not focusing on other than being part of a general denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not unilateral denuclearization", he said, alluding to the North's longstanding demand that the USA also remove its nuclear umbrella over South Korea.

He also says that bilateral trust should be "further strengthened in the future process of taking practical actions".

"I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement", he adds. "We will be ready", she said in a statement.

If realized, they will be the first general-level military talks between North Korea and the UNC since March 2009.

North Korean representatives didn't show up for scheduled talks with the US about returning the remains of fallen American soldiers.

North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with US officials at the demilitarized zone Thursday, where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War, a senior USA official tells CNN.

In the letter Trump released on Thursday, Kim repeatedly referred to the USA president as "Your Excellency".

Mr Pompeo had said a Pentagon team would meet with the North's officials on or around Thursday at the inter-Korea border to discuss the repatriation.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said North Korea called at midday Thursday and offered to meet on Sunday instead. Roughly 5,300 U.S. troops presumed to have been killed in the Korean war are unaccounted for.

The Pentagon says Pyongyang has indicated several times they have as many as 200 sets of remains that could be those of United States soldiers who died in the war.

"North Korea apparently wants a USA general to appear at the table to quickly finalize the repatriation issue", the source said.

Trump has sought to cast his summit with Kim as a major victory, although reports have suggested North Korea is continuing with its nuclear programme and promises of "denuclearisation" remain vague.

North Korea said Saturday it was seeking the "earliest start of the working-level talks" on the recovery of US remains.

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