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Pence voices hope of N.K. denuclearization upon return of war dead remains

All Headlines 06:53 August 03, 2018

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has voiced hope that North Korea's return of war dead remains is evidence of the regime's seriousness about dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Pence was in Hawaii Wednesday to attend a ceremony marking the return of 55 cases of remains presumably of American soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War. The repatriation was part of an agreement reached by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their historic summit in Singapore in June.

"We saw this promise kept by North Korea as evidence of the progress that we are making," Pence said in an interview with Fox News aired Thursday. "We continue to remain hopeful that we will achieve the aim that's eluded the world for decades -- a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. And we'll bring our boys home."

In the summit agreement, Kim committed to work toward the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

The remains were returned last week amid reports that North Korea continues to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and has plans to deceive Washington in spite of the deal.

Earlier this week The Washington Post also reported that up to two liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles are under construction at a facility where North Korea built an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S.

"We are very hopeful that in today's events there is further evidence that the promises made in Singapore by North Korea will be kept," Pence said in the interview filmed aboard Air Force 2 en route to Hawaii.

"What I can tell you, we are continuing to work very diligently and the secretary of state will be in the region again this week," he added. "Those negotiations and discussions are ongoing."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to attend a regional forum in Singapore Friday and Saturday, and the topic of North Korea's denuclearization is expected to dominate his meetings with his Asian counterparts.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho is also due to be there, opening the prospects of a meeting with Pompeo.

hague@yna.co.kr
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