02:36 GMT31 October 2020
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    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that North Korea has yet to return the remains of US soldiers killed during the Korean War, contradicting statements previously made by US President Donald Trump that the transfers were underway.

    The inquiry into whether the process had indeed already begun was posed by New Hampshire's Democratic Sen. Cynthia Shaheen.

    "I am optimistic that we will begin to have two opportunities," Pompeo told US lawmakers after taking a few seconds to brainstorm his response. "One is to receive some remains in the not-too-distant future, but then there's a great deal of work with companies… the nonprofits and the like that have been at this previously."

    "We have not yet physically received them," he stressed.

    In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, South Korea's Hyunmoo II Missile system, left, and U.S. Army Tactical Missile System, right, fire missiles during the combined military exercise between the two countries against North Korea at an undisclosed location in South Korea, Saturday, July 29, 2017.
    © AP Photo / South Korea Defense Ministry

    The secretary's remarks come a week after the US military indicated that some 100 wooden coffins had been transported to the North Korean border, Military.com reported. Nearly 8,000 US troops that took part in the 1950-53 Korean War are still unaccounted for, according to the US Department of Defense.

    Days after the much-anticipated meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump, the commander-in-chief revealed in an interview with Fox News that Pyongyang was "already starting to produce the remains of these great, young soldiers who were left in North Korea."

    He added: "We're getting the remains and nobody thought that was possible."

    According to the Washington Post, the last time that North Korea turned over remains was in 2007 when former UN Ambassador was able to secure the remains of six soldiers.


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