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State media say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project.

The report said the US planned to send cases to the Demilitarized Zone and that North Korea would place the remains in them.

Pompeo said USA and North Korean officials would begin meeting today to work out the next steps, including the transfer of remains that have already been collected in North Korea.

"Today's talks were productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments", Pompeo said. The official wished to remain anonymous as, while the efforts are multi-departmental, the U.S. State Department officially has the lead on communications. "They're going to use our cases for the remains and give them back to us", the official told Stars and Stripes.

Prior to this, North Korea had failed to participate in a working-level discussion that was supposed to be held on July 12 to discuss returning the remains.

The Stars and Stripes newspaper had first reported Tuesday that an American delegation had agreed to travel to North Korea and retrieve the remains, citing a us official. The State Department later said the North Korean side had been in contact at midday to cancel that meeting Thursday and had suggested rescheduling to Sunday. The Pentagon has said North Korean officials have indicated in the past they have the remains of as many as 200 USA troops.

The U.S. delegation was led by Maj.

The State Department has taken the lead on the negotiations, although the issue of war dead on the peninsula is usually handled by the United Nations command, which oversees the cease-fire. At the Singapore summit, Kim Jong Un made a broad commitment to "work toward denuclearisation", but fell short of details on how or when he would dismantle North Korea's nuclear programme, which it has pursued in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. 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.

The estimated population of North Korea's prison and gulag system is believed to be around 200,000 men, women and children, according to rights groups, with most held for political and not criminal reasons.

He added that, based on the mood of talks so far, he expects the North Koreans to adhere to certain protocols which call for the respectful handling of the remains.