SEOUL, South Korea — Stars and Stripes is reporting North Korean officials skipped planned talks on repatriating the remains of American war dead Thursday in the latest snub of a U.S. administration eager to show progress on efforts to rid the communist state of nuclear weapons.
The no-show fuels growing skepticism over the North’s commitment to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula as promised during the June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the talks would be held in the truce village of Panmunjom after his fraught visit to North Korea last week, although he added the caveat that “it could move by one day or two.”
Officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency traveled to the U.N.-controlled area in the heavily fortified border for the meeting but the North Koreans never showed up, according to official sources.
South Korean media also reported that the North Koreans didn’t show up, citing government officials.
More details were not immediately available. The U.S.-led United Nations Command’s public affairs office referred questions to the State Department. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said it had no immediate information.
American officials have been on standby for weeks and have sent wooden coffins and flags to Panmunjom in preparation for a handover.
The agreement on the return of remains of Americans believed to have been lost on the North Korean side of the border during the 1950-53 war, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” was the only concrete commitment on the four-point summit declaration.
The other points included a general commitment to the “complete denuclearization” of the divided peninsula, joint efforts to build “a lasting and stable peace regime,” and improved bilateral relations.