Thursday, 26 April, 2018

North Korean foreign minister in Sweden amid speculation

North Korean Foreign Minister to vist Sweden North Korean foreign minister headed to Sweden for talks
Sammy Stanley | 18 March, 2018, 01:05

North Korea's foreign minister met with his Swedish counterpart Thursday after making a surprise trip to Stockholm that has fueled speculation about a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, has been frequently used as a communication channel between the US and reclusive North Korea.

The talks are to focus on Sweden's consular role as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia in North Korea.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was in Southeast Asia when the delegation visited the White House, and now she is visiting Washington but has no counterpart to talk to.

Some Swedish and foreign media have said that Ri - who was stationed at North Korea's embassy in Stockholm in 1985-1988 - will stay in the Scandinavian country until Sunday for other talks, though Swedish officials would not confirm those reports. President Donald Trump has accepted the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's summit proposal delivered by South Korea's presidential security adviser, adding he wants the meeting to be held by May.

"We have said that if we can support such a process, we are prepared to do so".

"We shouldn't be naive and believe it is Sweden that solves these problems", Mr Lofven added.

Johnson: 'overwhelmingly likely' that Putin ordered spy nerve attack
The BBC on Saturday said the police had made contact with Russians living in Britain to discuss their safety. The British Council will also be shut.

North Korea also has an embassy in Stockholm, in the leafy residential suburb of Lidingo.

The US State Department said it was aware of the meeting in Stockholm, but that Washington would not be taking part. She said that "we value this opportunity to arrange a meeting", though she didn't specify what she meant. So far, North Korea has yet to comment publicly on what it hopes to gain from the talks.

Sweden has been rumored as a possible site for the summit between Kim and Trump, though a truce village on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas is seen as more likely. The Swedish embassy provides consular services to citizens of both countries.

In the past, that has meant Washington would have to withdraw all of its troops from South Korea, a condition no U.S. president has been willing to consider.

The assistant USA secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who will be in charge of dealing with North Korea, was nominated in December past year, but a Senate confirmation hearing has yet to take place.

Sweden, which has a uniquely long-standing diplomatic relationship with North Korea, is also a non-permanent member of the Security Council 2017-2018, which has unanimously condemned the country's nuclear weapons and missile programmes and demanded their complete elimination.

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