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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 233-97
May 10, 1997

U.S. AND NORTH KOREA TALKS ON MISSING SERVICEMEN END

Talks between the United States and North Korea on missing servicemen from the Korean war ended in New York, Friday night, with no formal agreement.

The negotiations began on Sunday, and focused on the fullest possible accounting of American servicemen in three broad areas: the question of live sightings of alleged Americans living in North Korea; access to North Korean military archives; and establishment of a schedule of joint operations to recover the remains of Americans buried in North Korea.

James W. Wold, leader of the U.S. delegation, expressed disappointment that the talks ended with no agreement and with no progress shown in resolving the issue.

Despite assurances in advance of the talks with the North Koreans that we would deal conclusively with all issues, their delegation was unable to respond constructively to U.S. proposals in any of the three areas, " Wold said. "I know that our family members and veterans are as disappointed as I am."

At the request of the Department of Defense, the North Koreans agreed to meet with a small number of family members and veterans representatives on Friday afternoon. That meeting enabled the attendees to express their views on the accounting issue and to question directly the high-level North Korean officials who are responsible for POW/MIA matters in that country. This was the first time since the end of hostilities that a group of family members has been able to meet with North Korean officials who are responsible for the POW/MIA issue.

These negotiations were the fourth in a series of talks which began in January 1996. Like the earlier ones, they were confined to the single subject of the fullest possible accounting of MIAs. The last meeting was in New York City in May 1996, and led to an agreement and a joint operation in North Korea which returned the remains of a U.S. soldier in July 1996.

Point of contact for news media queries is Larry Greer, DPMO/PA, (703) 602-1245.