Return of war dead from North Korea could take years of digging

Several days previously, Pyongyang had slated the United States for seeking unilateral and forced denuclearization from North Korea.

In this June 12, 2018, file photo, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands at the conclusion of their meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore. But given the harsh statements from Pyongyang following Pompeo's trip last week - the North Korean Foreign Ministry blasted Washington's stance on denuclearization as "gangster-like" - it's possible that it's gonna be a long, long time.

Ahead of the summit in Singapore, North Korean officials sometimes did not turn up to meetings where their USA counterparts were expecting them, causing tension between the two negotiating partners.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the head of US intelligence to assess whether North Korea's posture and actions regarding denuclearization match up with the Trump administration's claims.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon put a dollar amount - about US$14 million - on the costs of Freedom Guardian, which was shelved after Trump met with Kim in a historic summit Singapore last month. Pompeo and his delegation had just traveled to North Korea to meet with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol.

American officials have been on standby for weeks and have sent wooden coffins and flags to Panmunjom in preparation for a handover.

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U.S. negotiators arrived Thursday at the militarized border between the two Koreas as previously announced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and were kept waiting, the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing diplomatic officials it didn't identify.

United Nations honor guards carry on December 14, 1993 a soldier's remains who died during the Korean War.

More than 36,000 US troops died in the three-year war, which ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula divided by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders.

The Department of Defense estimates that North Korea is holding about 200 sets of remains from some 5,300 American military personnel believed missing in the country.

But he also acknowledged that a lot of work remained to be done, including on the issue of setting a timeline for denuclearization. "Great progress being made", Trump said in a tweet that also included a copy of the correspondence from Kim.

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