Officials from North Korea were expected to meet Thursday with UN Command officials representing the United States to discuss repatriating the remains of American troops who went missing in action during the Korean War.
Returning the remains was something North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised to do when he met last month with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore, and it was considered a huge step forward in building trust between Pyongyang and Washington.
Talks on implementing the agreement were due to be held on Thursday at the truce village of Panmunjom, as arranged last week in Pyongyang by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong-chol.
The U.S. had already sent a hundred wooden caskets to Panmunjom to carry the soldiers' remains back home, once an agreement was reached.
But North Korean officials never showed up.
According to the U.S. State Department, the North contacted the U.S. side later in the day, offering to hold the talks on Sunday instead.
Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, citing government sources, also reported that Pyongyang proposed holding them at the general-level, strongly hinting that the North wants a senior U.S. military official present at the negotiations.
Sources say North Korea made a direct call to the UN Command, through a line that was suspended for five years after North Korea called off the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 2013.
Pyongyang is known to have asked for the military channel to be restored, and after it was restored, to have asked for understanding for the delay that was caused by its lack of preparation.
The State Department accepted the proposal, and so the two sides will finally meet for their overdue talks on Sunday, to carry out the agreement from the Singapore summit.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.