U.S., North Korea meet over return of war remains

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Returning the remains of U.S. soldiers was part of the June 12 agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea plans to implement a general amnesty next month before celebrating its 70th founding anniversary on September 9, Pyongyang's media said Monday.

North Korea will grant a pardon to citizens convicted of a crime to mark the 70th anniversary of the Pyongyang regime, KCNA reported Monday.

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The U.S. and North Korea are technically still in a state of war since the conflict ended in an armistice and not a formal peace treaty.

The two sides appear close to starting the transfer process after working-level talks headed by the UN Command (UNC) on Monday, but the military official said the US still requires additional discussions to work out logistical details.

Pompeo called the talks over the weekend that led to the announcement "productive, cooperative and resulted in firm commitments". The official wished to remain anonymous as, while the efforts are multi-departmental, the U.S. State Department officially has the lead on communications.

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North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with USA officials at the demilitarized zone Thursday, where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the war, CNN has reported. A UNC official said he had no information to confirm the report, though preparations had been made for Sunday's talks.

He said North Korea would transfer the discovered remains to be buried in the U.S. It is the first time in more than nine years that the discussion has focused on returning the remains of US soldiers. The White House has hailed the summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore as a major breakthrough toward disarming the isolated, nuclear-armed North in exchange for easing of sanctions and other help with economic development. The sides also agreed to resume field operations to search for more remains in the North and to hold the working-level talks on Monday.

The joint US-North Korea program to search for remains began in 1996 but was suspended in 2005 due to rising nuclear tensions. Of those, 5,300 are believed to be in North Korea.

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Last month, the United Nations special rapporteur for the North, Tomas Ojea Quintana, urged Pyongyang to begin releasing prisoners under a gradual general amnesty. He added that further talks would start on Monday to arrange details including the transfer of remains already held in North Korea.

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