Caskets that the US shipped to the border last month haven't been filled, despite Kim Jong Un's pledge during his June 12 summit with President Donald Trump to immediately repatriate identified remains.
However, officials say it could be months before excavations can begin and years until the remains are identified. Despite the secretary's attempt to put a positive spin on the visit, as soon as he was out of the country, North Korea criticized his "unilateral and gangster-like" demands and called the talks "regrettable".
US officials and experts have said the shift in attitude was to be expected as the North Koreans are known for brinkmanship and trying to up the ante ahead of tough negotiations over their nuclear missile program.
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The letter is dated July 6, and was given to Secretary of State Pompeo delegation to deliver to Trump while the group was in Pyongyang last week to continue talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, senior administration officials tell CNN.
Both sides were expected to discuss the timeline and ways in which remains of American soldiers would be returned at the meeting.
At high-level talks last week, North Korea and the USA confirmed they are still poles apart on the next steps to be taken in the process. Pompeo also brought a letter for Kim from the president but didn't get to meet the North Korean dictator. "Looking round farm machines and tractors of the workteam, he acquainted himself with how many tractors it has and how it operates them", KCNA reports.
According to estimates from the Pentagon, 7,700 USA troops are still unaccounted for from the Korean War.
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Trump also announced that the USA would suspend "war games" with South Korea.
In the meantime, satellite images of a missile-manufacturing facility in the city of Hamhung showed North Korea is expanding its ballistic weapons program. 5,300 of that number are believed to have been killed north of the 38th parallel, which marks the border between the two Koreas.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he does, in fact, plan to give North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a CD with the Elton John hit "Rocket Man", as well as another mystery gift "at a certain period". He also told supporters in Nevada that North Korea had already handed over 200 sets of remains.
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