North Korea snubs U.S., skips meeting on returning remains

13 July, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • South Korean Marines storm a beach in the southeastern port of Pohang during joint drills with the US military last year

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday released a letter from Kim Jong Un on Twitter, in which the North Korean leader voices confidence in efforts to end their nuclear standoff while urging Trump to take "practical steps" to build trust.

"A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea", Trump tweeted alongside a copy of the letter dated July 6 - the day that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Pyongyang for what turned out to be hard talks with Kim's regime.

Mr. Pompeo denied that the talks went poorly, telling pool reporters that progress was made "in every element of our discussions".

"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 US also remove its nuclear umbrella over South Korea.

This would signal a shift in tone from Pyongyang's previous unwillingness to open up dialogue with Tokyo - which has been somewhat sidelined amid the flurry of diplomacy over North Korea's nuclear program, resulting in a recent thaw in relations between the North and the United States.

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"We will be ready", Mr Nauert said.

Mr. Kim did not mention any commitments to the denuclearization process, generally commenting on wanting to improve relations between the two nations.

North Korea, meanwhile, lashed out at Washington for presenting "gangster-like demands" for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

North Korean officials denounced the meeting at its conclusion, accusing the USA of having a "gangster-like" attitude in negotiations.

The President's release of the letter comes shortly after North Korean officials failed to show up to a meeting with US leadership.

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It had been expected on Thursday at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom. Trump tweeted on Thursday alongside a copy of the letter, dated July 6. He later described his meetings with North Korean officials as "productive", while acknowledgnig that a lot of work remained to be done.

"We will be ready", U.S. state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Kim also agreed to repatriate remains of United States troops who died during the Korean War six decades ago. Roughly 5,300 USA troops presumed to have been killed in the Korean war are unaccounted for.

A US official waited at the border truce village of Panmunjom but no North Korean official showed up, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing a Seoul diplomatic source.

The source said that Kim did not see any need to hold dialogue with Japan before his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, instead favoring relations with the United States, China and Russian Federation.

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