Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Scrapped drill with South Korea would have cost US$14m: Pentagon


But while improving relations and decreasing hostility has certainly been a benefit of Trump's diplomatic push on North Korea, it's been a means to the end of denuclearization.

The US secretary of state visited Pyongyang on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to agree details of a deal made during June's historic summit between Donald Trump and the North Korean dictator.

North Korea's criticism of talks with Pompeo fueled further doubts about whether Trump will ever achieve his goal of "complete denuclearization", much less on the timeline of one to 2-1/2 years set out by various administration officials.

"We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should", Trump said after meeting Kim in a bid to solve the crisis over the North's nuclear weapons.

North Korean officials did not turn up to a Thursday meeting with the USA military about repatriating the remains of the war dead, according to a US official with knowledge of the situation.

Pompeo, speaking Wednesday to reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a NATO summit with President Donald Trump, said that change was up to North Koreans.

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Pyongyang has reportedly asked the United Nations Command Armistice Commission to upgrade the talks to a higher level to include a US general, South Korea's foreign ministry said.

North Korean and USA teams - as well as officials from the United Nations - had been due to discuss the details of repatriation.

American officials have been on standby for weeks and have sent wooden coffins and flags to Panmunjom in preparation for a handover. The discussions about returning Americans soldiers killed nearly 70 years ago was perhaps the most tangible outcome from Pompeo's trip, which analysts expected would at least secure the release of some remains. "It is likely that military generals from the USA and North Korea will take part in the meeting".

There is speculation that North Korea may also want payment for the return of the remains, our correspondent says. Trump has used it as a favorite nickname for Kim beginning past year, in a mocking reference to North Korea's frequent missile tests. 5,300 of that number are believed to have been killed north of the 38th parallel, which marks the border between the two Koreas.

Shortly after the apparent setback was reported, President Trump tweeted the translation of a letter he had received from Mr Kim, in which the North Korean leader said: "I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr President".

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