South Korea’s Moon optimistic on US-North Korea diplomatic thaw


North Korean officials have failed to turn up for talks with a U.S. team on the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean war.

The repatriation of the remains of US soldiers from North Korea has been a major issue between Washington and Pyongyang since the end of the Korean War, when thousands of Americans were left in Korea either missing in action or as prisoners of war.

Last month, Trump told a Republican convention in Las Vegas that North Korea had "already sent back, or are in the process of sending back" the remains of 200 United States or allied service members following his summit with Kim.

The recent meeting in Pyongyang between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Kim's negotiators showed, as if the world needed further evidence, that it will not be easy.

Earlier it was reported that North Korea agreed to establish a joint working group on the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

According to documents seen by AFP, the U.S. sent a report to the United Nations sanctions committee that estimated at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set at 500,000 barrels under a sanctions resolution adopted in December.

One observer pointed out that Trump would have likely criticized his response to North Korea had it been the reaction of another president.

While the letter is full of kind words about Trump, North Korean officials continue to use typical tactics to stymie talks following Pompeo's overnight visit to Pyongyang last week.

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In another development on Thursday, the U.S. accused North Korea of violating a United Nations sanctions cap on refined oil products.

On the other side from all of the above is Trump's Thursday tweet, which shared a letter sent to him by Kim Jong Un and claimed that "great progress" was underway with North Korea. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the UNC would initially take custody of the remains and preside at the dignified transfer to the USA military.

The North Korean leader also said their "strong will, honest efforts and unique approach" towards a new future will bear fruit.

"I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake", he tweeted.

"We will be ready", U.S. state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Between 1996 and 2005, some 33 recovery operations were conducted in North Korea which saw 200 sets of remains returned. Yet Trump carries on as if nothing is wrong, babbling about an Elton John CD he wants to give Kim.

"Meeting to discuss the recovery and retrieval of remains is so crucial because it's low hanging fruit", said Christine Ahn, the founder Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War and reunite families.