South Korea approved a rare screening of North Korean movies at a local film festival on Tuesday, as a diplomatic thaw gains pace following two landmark summits between their leaders. Despite the secretary's attempt to put a positive spin on the visit, as soon as he was out of the country, North Korea criticized his "unilateral and gangster-like" demands and called the talks "regrettable".
"President Trump and Chairman Kim made a commitment to recover the remains of U.S. service members in North Korea as well as to repatriate remains that they now have", stated Kelly McKeague, Director of U.S. Defense of POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said, "The government hopes the agreements reached between leaders at the North Korea-U.S. summit, including the repatriation of Korean War remains, will be swiftly carried out as a means to fulfill the goal of complete denuclearization and establishment of a peace system on the Korean Peninsula".
Pompeo was in Pyongyang from Friday to Saturday to try to flesh out a bare bones denuclearisation deal made during last month's historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump. The discussions about returning Americans soldiers killed nearly 70 years ago was perhaps the most tangible outcome from Pompeo's trip, which analysts expected would at least secure the release of some remains. Pompeo and his delegation had just traveled to North Korea to meet with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol.
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. "It is likely that military generals from the US and North Korea will take part in the meeting".
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Interested in North Korea?
On Monday Trump reiterated his confidence in Kim.
More than 36,000 US 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.
Shortly after the apparent setback was reported, President Trump tweeted the translation of a letter he had received from Mr Kim, in which the North Korean leader said: "I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr President".
The agency also says that North Korean officials have indicated they have "as many as 200 sets of remains" already recovered that could be ready for return.