On Sunday, top United States and North Korean military officials and diplomats successfully met to discuss the repatriation of American troops’ remains from North Korea.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “This meeting was aimed at fulfilling one of the commitments made by Chairman Kim at the Singapore Summit.”
“Today’s talks were productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments,” he added, The Washington Examiner reported.
Pompeo said that additional meetings would be held Monday to develop plans to return the remains that have already been recovered back to the U.S. He also mentioned that the search for the unaccounted remains of some 5,300 American troops has commenced.
On July 16, working level meetings between US and DPRK officials are scheduled to begin to coordinate next steps, including the transfer of American service members’ remains already collected in the DPRK @StateDept pic.twitter.com/YSTNounHeI
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 15, 2018
The meeting was under question after North Korea failed to show for a previously arranged meeting on July 12 at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), along with South Korea.
A reason was not given for the no-show, although many viewed the act as a snub against the U.S.
This was especially fueled by the earlier North Korean remarks accusing Pompeo and the Trump Administration of making “gangster-like” demands during “regrettable” denuclearization talks.
However, later in the day, North Korean officials contacted the U.S. and offered to meet just days later on July 15. A statement from the South Korea Foreign Ministry said that their northern neighbor wanted to push the meeting back a few days.
When the first meeting had been announced, Pompeo said that the meeting “could move by one day or two,” suggesting that the details of the meeting were not solidified to begin with.
North Korean officials have reportedly located as many as 200 U.S. troops’ remains, but have not yet handed them over to the U.S.
Last month, U.S. forces transported 100 wooden caskets to the Demilitarized Zone in preparation to transport the recovered remains. The caskets are expected to be placed in metal transfer cases before returning to the U.S.
Both President Trump and Pompeo expressed confidence in Kim Jong Un honoring the commitments made at the Singapore summit. They have also maintained that discussions between the two nations have yielded progress.
President Trump said in a tweet Sunday: “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. 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!”
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. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2018
Some U.S. officials are reportedly concerned that North Korea is continuing to operate nuclear sites in secret, despite the meetings and agreement stating otherwise.
However, Trump and Pompeo have been firm in saying that nothing less than “complete and verifiable” denuclearization will be accepted.