Excavations for Remains of US Service Members in North Korea May Resume

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last weekend, he was supposed to have a one-on-one meeting with Kim Jong-un.

The North, instead, reportedly proposed holding general-level military talks with the United Nations Command (UNC) to discuss returning the war remains to the U.S. It is unknown whether the North Korean side gave any prior notification to the U.S. about this.

South Korea's urbanization is one reason why more than a 1,000 USA service members are unaccounted for, said McKeague.

More than 36,000 USA troops died in the three-year war, which ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula divided by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders. 5,300 of that number are believed to have been killed north of the 38th parallel, which marks the border between the two Koreas.

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The USFK sent 100 wooden cases to the truce village of Panmunjeom to receive the remains last month, and also has 158 coffins ready at a base in Pyeongtaek to take the remains back to the U.S.

The United States was allowed to conduct 33 investigative and recovery operations in the country before former President George W. Bush's administration called off the search, claiming the safety of American participants was not guaranteed.

The letter comes days after the North Korean Foreign Ministry released a statement accusing the USA of "ganster-like" demands and trying to unilaterally pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear weapons.

Trump called Kim "Little Rocket Man" or "Rocket Man" in several tweets in 2017 and early 2018 and has said that North Korea's continued threats against the USA would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen".

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KCNA did not say when the trip was made, but Kim Yong Chol, Kim's powerful right-hand man, told a visiting Seoul official last week that the leader was away for a trip to a "local region".

The White House had said earlier Pompeo would meet with the leader, but the encounter did not materialise and the top USA diplomat only met with Kim Yong Chol.

US officials and experts have said the shift in attitude was to be expected as the North Koreans are known for brinkmanship and trying to up the ante ahead of tough negotiations over their nuclear missile program.

Guarded by North Korean soldiers, Byrd said they were careful to avoid arguments that could halt their work. The news agency noted that the request followed North Koreans not showing up to the meeting with US representatives. "We're not going to be sidelined or sidetracked".

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