By Alex Jensen
The United States-led UN Command (UNC) opened general-level talks with North Korea for the first time in nearly a decade Sunday, three days after the North postponed their scheduled meeting to discuss the return of Korean War remains.
Thursday’s delay was widely reported as a snub by North Korea, which has already kept the U.S. waiting for weeks since President Donald Trump agreed with Chairman Kim Jong-un on June 12 that America’s war dead would be recovered, including the “immediate repatriation” of those already identified by the North.
Official U.S. statistics show that 7,699 American personnel remain unaccounted for following the 1950-53 conflict.
While U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently arranged working-level talks to handle the issue, the North Korean side elevated the dialogue to involve military generals.
Sunday's meeting reportedly started at about 10 a.m. (1 a.m. GMT) at the inter-Korean border.
According to sources cited by South Korean news agency Yonhap, Maj. Gen. Michael Minihan, the UNC’s chief of staff, represented the American delegation. It is also understood that a two-star general was leading the North’s side.
If U.S. repatriation efforts are successful, it could offer a boost to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ambition to retrieve the remains of all Korean War participants.
He declared his plan to do so last month during his Memorial Day address, amid improving inter-Korean ties.
Among the missing foreign soldiers who are believed to have died in the conflict, around 165 were part of the Turkish Brigade, which supplied nearly 15,000 troops to fight on the South’s side during the war.