The date of the letter suggests it may have been sent before Secretary of State Michael Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang last week, in which the United States and North Korea struggled to make headway on the denuclearization issue.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, arrive for a lunch at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018.
North Korean officials didn't show up for a planned meeting with USA counterparts to discuss returning the remains of American war dead, South Korean media reported, in the latest sign of tensions between the two sides.
Roh Kyu-deok, a spokesman for South Korea's Foreign Ministry, said the South Korean government is "constantly in contact with the USA counterpart" about progress of the talks on war remains repatriation, but declined to comment on any details, saying that all inquiries on the issue be directed to the US authorities.
The article contrasts with the media narrative following the release of North Korea's statement that the negotiations took a turn for the worse during the sit-down. "We had anticipated the USA side would come with a constructive idea, thinking we would take something in return", a foreign ministry official said in a statement. 5,300 of that number are believed to have been killed north of the 38th parallel, which marks the border between the two Koreas. He also told supporters in Nevada that North Korea had already handed over 200 sets of remains.
On June 23, the Pentagon confirmed that it had moved 100 wooden coffins to the DMZ to receive the remains that North Korea promised to return and would soon move another 158 metal transfer cases to the border. Although Pompeo called the meetings "productive", North Korea said the lack of emphasis on security guarantees was "regretful".
The last return of United States remains between 1990 and 1995 involved just over 200 caskets.
It had been expected at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom.
"A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea", Trump wrote in his tweet. "We're going to continue to work through that", the vice president said. Great progress being made! The news agency noted that the request followed North Koreans not showing up to the meeting with US representatives.