US, N. Korea Agree to Restart Joint Search for War Remains

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North Korean and US officials met on Monday to discuss the next steps in repatriating the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the plan for talks after visiting Pyongyang this month, touting it as one of key issues on which the two sides had made progress, though the North accused his delegation of making "gangster-like" demands in connection with denuclearisation during the trip.

US President Donald Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying "great progress (is) being made, ' despite recent indications that both nations" goals of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula may still be far away.

South Korean TV footage showed North Korean athletes and delegates arriving at Seoul's Incheon International Airport Sunday via a flight through Beijing.

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.

Official U.S. statistics show that 7,699 American personnel remain unaccounted for following the 1950-53 conflict.

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U.S. officials have previously said it could take years to identify all the remains and to determine whether they are, in fact, Americans.

The US and North Korea will jointly engage in the searches for the yet-to-be-located service members' remains, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed; she could not say when those would begin.

But a USA military official familiar with the matter said last month it was not clear what North Korea might hand over.

The two Koreas will form joint table tennis teams for the 2018 Korea Open next week, a report said Sunday, the latest sign of thawing ties between the neighbours. In 2013, the North severed its hotline with the UNC, declaring the armistice that ended the Korean War null and void.

Earlier this month, Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang where he met with vice chairman and former intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol and the two agreed the US and North Korea would meet on or around July 12. 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.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter again Sunday to lament coverage of his administration and its fight against "fake news", calling much of the US news media "indeed the enemy of the people". North Korea has been trying to brush away suggestions that it has no intention to denuclearise.

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