Pompeo: Talks with North Korea on returning war dead ‘productive and cooperative’

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The United States secured “firm commitments” from North Korea on Sunday in efforts to negotiate the return of the remains of U.S. service members killed in the Korean War, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. 

Pompeo’s statement came as U.S. officials held general-level talks with the North — the first such talks since 2009. He said that the discussions were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments” from North Korean officials on the return of the remains.

Pompeo said that working-level meetings would continue on Monday to discuss the next steps, including the actual transfer of the service members’ remains from North Korea.


He added that both the U.S. and North Korea would recommence field operations to search for additional American remains from the war.

The Korean War raged from 1950 until 1953, though it ultimately ended with a ceasefire agreement rather than a formal peace treaty, meaning it is still technically ongoing.

More than 7,800 Americans who fought in the war are unaccounted for, according to the Defense Department. More than 36,000 U.S. service members died in the conflict.

The repatriation of U.S. service members’ remains was among the agreements reached during a historic summit in June between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

The general-level talks between the U.S. and North Korea on Sunday came after North Korean officials failed to show up to a scheduled meeting last Thursday that was intended to focus on repatriating the remains.

After his summit with Kim last month, Trump offered a friendly assessment of the North Korean leader and declared that Pyongyang no longer posed a nuclear threat to the U.S. But when Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang earlier this month for a follow-up meeting, the North appeared to harden its stances. 

The secretary of State was not granted a meeting with Kim. And after the visit, the North released a statement decrying the Trump administration’s “gangster-like” demand for denuclearization.

But Trump has continued to insist that his administration is making progress with regard to North Korea. He tweeted a copy of a letter he received from Kim, boasting about the “great progress” the two countries were making in negotiations. That letter was dated July 6, the same day that the North issued its blistering criticism of Washington’s negotiating tactics.

Trump, who has claimed that North Korea has already sent back the remains of U.S. troops, also took to Twitter on Sunday to tout the fact that Pyongyang has not tested a nuclear weapon or fired a ballistic missile in nine months. He also blamed the media for not reporting on what he described as the “wonderful” achievements of his negotiations. North Korea last tested a missile in November. It’s last nuclear test was in September.

“There hasn’t been a missile or rocket fired in 9 months in North Korea, there have been no nuclear tests and we got back our hostages,” he tweeted. “Who knows how it will all turn out in the end, but why isn’t the Fake News talking about these wonderful facts? Because it is FAKE NEWS!”

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Korean War Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo North Korea State Department

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