U.S. says it didn't invite N. Koreans to armistice remembrance
July 24, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Despite what North Korea said, U.N. Command officials didn’t invite the communist country to a Sunday armistice commemoration, U.S. Forces Korea stated Tuesday.
During an informal conversation July 12, U.N. Command officials told Korean People’s Army representatives they wanted to have a colonel-level meeting, the USFK statement said. The meeting would have been used to tell North Korea about Sunday’s commemoration at Panmunjom, the statement said. Panmunjom is a divided border camp in the Demilitarized Zone.
That conversation happened during a meeting at which U.S. officials discussed recovering remains of U.S. servicemembers who died in North Korea during the 1950-53 war, said Lee Ferguson, USFK spokeswoman. At that meeting, the United States agreed to pay North Korea $2.1 million for four searches this summer and fall.
U.N. Command officials will request another meeting with North Korean army officials, the release said. Regular meetings between the U.N. Command and North Korea, called for in the armistice agreement that ended the fighting, now have become irregular.
In April, North Korea stopped attending weekly staff officer meetings, which usually involved discussing maintenance and tour schedules in the Joint Security Area. Other regular meetings include those among colonels and general officers.
More than 1,500 Korean War veterans representing 21 nations and 18 dignitaries will attend the armistice ceremony, USFK stated.
North Korea’s media outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, characterized the alleged invitation from the U.N. Command as odd. It said the chief of the North Korean army’s mission at Panmunjom sent a message to U.S. forces Friday.
“The move is, of course, intended to give an impression that the U.S. is working hard to remove the misunderstanding and distrust in the past and promote the reconciliation and trust in the Korean peninsula,” the statement read. “But this is not its real aim.”