Pentagon, North Korea cut off talks for return of US war dead

The US Department of Defense has suspended negotiations with North Korea for the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War, in a sign that relations between the two countries may once again be on the ebb.

The Pentagon’s Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency was optimistic that US war dead would be returned home after a February summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but hasn’t heard from the Hermit Kingdom since the Hanoi sit-down.

“As a result, our effort to communicate with the Korean People’s Army regarding the possible resumption of [a] joint recovery operation for 2019 has been suspended,” the agency said Wednesday. “We have reached the point where we can no longer effectively plan, coordinate and conduct field operations in the DPRK during this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, 2019.”

Following years of high tensions marked by North Korean missile tests and nuclear development, relations looked to be thawing after an initial meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June 2018.

A little over a month after that summit, 55 caskets containing the remains of an unknown number of troops killed in the 1950-53 conflict were returned to US soil.

But the efforts stalled in the wake of the Hanoi huddle, and North Korea on Saturday reportedly fired several short-range missiles toward the Sea of Japan, marking the isolated nation’s first test launch in a year-and-a-half.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the latest test will not impact talks towards denuclearization.

With Post wires

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