Confusion flares over talks on return of U.S. troop remains

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- Even after the U.S. announcement of plans for a meeting with North Korea this weekend on the return of soldiers' remains, confusion persists over how to characterize it.

"Mid day July 12th (the North Koreans) contacted us and offered to meet on July 15th. We will be ready," the State Department's spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

The United States is apparently seeking a "government-to-government" approach to receive the remains of service members killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, in line with the Singapore summit deal last month. Apparently, the U.S. does not want to frame it as military negotiations with the North. It has only referred to them as consultations on the agreed-upon repatriation of the remains.

But it's still unclear who's taking the lead on the U.S. side -- diplomats or military officials? Nauert stopped short of revealing the list of American delegates to the talks.

On Thursday, a team of U.S. officials, reportedly including U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) service members, waited for the North's officials at Panmunjom, straddling the inter-Korean border, but they did not show up.

Wrapping up his overnight stay in Pyongyang last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the two sides agreed to meet each other at the truce village around July 12.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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