Efforts to recover US troops' remains from North Korea suspended: report

Efforts to recover US troops' remains from North Korea suspended: report
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U.S. efforts to recover the remains of American troops killed during the Korean War have stalled as the Trump administration's negotiations with North Korea have seen recent setbacks.

The agency in charge of recovering the remains told Reuters on Wednesday that it has not been in contact with North Korean officials since negotiations between President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies MORE and Kim Jong UnKim Jong Un North Korea launches missile tests, insults South Korean president Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move North Korean media: New US missiles in South Korea would trigger 'new Cold War' MORE in February failed to produce further results, a spokesman told Reuters.

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“We have reached the point where we can no longer effectively plan, coordinate, and conduct field operations in [North Korea] during this fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2019," U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) spokesman Lt. Col. Kenneth Hoffman reportedly said.

"As a result, our efforts to communicate with the Korean People’s Army regarding the possible resumption of joint recovery operations for 2019 have been suspended,” he said.

The return of remains of U.S. soldiers was begun last year under a historic agreement between Trump and Kim that saw the U.S. and North Korea work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula for the first time in decades.

However, the negotiations stalled earlier this year over a fight over U.S. sanctions on North Korea.

Roughly 5,300 U.S. soldiers were considered killed in action and remained in North Korea after the end of the Korean War, though the remains of about 50 were returned last year following the two leaders' first summit. Since then, little progress has reportedly been made.

It's unclear whether North Korea plans to continue its path towards denuclearization or closer relations with the U.S. absent a change in posture from the White House and the State Department.

“We are assessing possible next steps in resuming communications with the KPA to plan for potential joint recovery operations during Fiscal Year 2020,” Hoffman reportedly added.