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(3rd LD) U.S., N. Korea hold talks about return of American troops' remains

All Headlines 18:02 July 15, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 7-8)

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States and North Korea held general-level talks for the first time in more than nine years on Sunday to discuss the details of an agreement to repatriate the remains of American troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The meeting had originally been scheduled to take place Thursday, but the North called it off at the last minute, citing a lack of preparations. The North then suggested holding general-level talks with the U.S.-led U.N. Command (UNC) on Sunday, and the U.S. agreed.

Sunday's talks began around 10 a.m. at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom. Maj. Gen. Michael Minihan, chief of staff for the UNC, led the U.S. side and the North's delegation included a two-star general, sources said. Further details were not immediately available.

Earlier, three U.S. Forces Korea vehicles arrived at the Tongil Bridge near the border around 8:20 a.m. before putting U.N. flags on them and heading to Panmunjom. It was unclear whether the talks would conclude Sunday or be extended for another day.

Recovering and repatriating the remains of U.S. troops killed during the war was one of the agreements that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reached during their historic summit in Singapore last month.

Sunday's talks were expected to focus on such details as when and how the remains should be transferred. But the North could also demand something in exchange for the return or raise other issues related to the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War.

The talks lasted for about two hours, sources said. It is not known exactly what the two sides discussed, but it is presumed that they focused on when and how the remains will be returned.

They said that there is a possibility that the U.S. and North Korea could hold working-level talks later to follow up on their discussion in Sunday's meeting.

The North's proposal of talks with the UNC, even though the UNC is led by the U.S., was seen as an attempt to use the meeting not only to discuss the repatriation of war remains but also other issues, such as a proposal to jointly declare an end to the Korean War.

But a South Korean government source said the North and the U.S. agreed to discuss the issue of repatriating remains only at Sunday's talks.

Sunday's meeting was the first between the UNC and the North's military in nine years and four months. General-grade talks between the two sides have been held 16 times since 1998 and the last meeting took place in March 2009.

(3rd LD) U.S., N. Korea hold talks about return of American troops' remains - 1


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