North Korea pardons criminals to mark regime's 70th anniversary

North Korea Military

After entering disarmament talks with the US earlier this year, Mr Kim met in June with US President Donald Trump and agreed to commit to "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

The four-paragraph letter - an upbeat missive in which Kim voices hope in a "new future" and speaks of his "invariable trust" in Trump - is dated July 6, the day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in North Korea for what turned out to be acrimonious talks with Kim's regime.

The State Department confirmed that talks resumed Monday in Panmunjom "to continue coordination on the transfer of remains already collected in (North Korea) and the re-commencing of field operations", but declined to provide more details.

Pompeo unveiled the plan for the talks after visiting Pyongyang this month, touting it as one of the key issues on which the two sides had made progress, though the North accused his delegation of making "gangster-like" demands in connection with denuclearization during the trip.

Three vehicles of USA forces in South Korea, flying United Nations flags, were spotted heading to the border earlier in the day, Yonhap said.

The U.S. government estimates that the North Korean government has about 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners in detention.

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"We will be ready", she said.

The joint US-North Korea program to search for remains began in 1996 but was suspended in 2005 due to rising nuclear tensions.

Kim also said the Singapore summit and the letter both leaders signed during that meeting were "indeed the start of a meaningful journey".

North Korea and the United States conducted joint operations to recover the remains of USA soldiers from 1996 to 2005 but stopped when their relations soured as Pyongyang accelerated its nuclear program. Richard Downes, executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, said recently that he had been told the North may have the remains of more than 200 American service members that were likely recovered from land during farming or construction.

The general-level meeting between the United Nations Command and North Korea was the first of its kind since March 2009.

Experts are speculating that Pyongyang is trying to fast-track discussions on what it considers more critical issues, such as reaching a declaration to formally end the war, which stopped on an armistice and not a peace treaty. His North Korean counterpart is known to be a lieutenant general, equivalent to a USA major general, from the Korean People's Army. Efforts then stalled for more than a decade because of tensions over North Korea's nuclear program and a previous USA claim that the security arrangement for its personnel working in the North was insufficient.

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