North Korean foreign minister begins Sweden trip

Frederick Owens
March 18, 2018

South Korea said on Friday it was seeking high-level talks this month with North Korea to prepare for a summit and that South Korean President Moon Jae-in may meet Donald Trump before the US president's planned meeting with the North Korean leader. Moon plans to meet Kim by the end of April.

Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea.

However, as United States diplomats worked to set up the presidential visit, it became clear that North Korea and the U.S. were too far apart on the details of a missile pact to justify handing then-leader Kim Jong Il the huge concession of a Clinton visit.

The abrupt decision to accept the summit has triggered much skepticism from Korea observers but, after his call with Moon, Trump's White House remained cautiously optimistic that his strategy of making military threats backed by crippling real-world sanctions had forced Kim's hand.

Other possible summit locations include: Switzerland, the neutral nation where Kim went to school; the Joint Security Area in the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea; and China, which has diplomatic relations with the USA and North Korea and has hosted Kim's father, the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

"The two leaders expressed cautious optimism over recent developments and emphasised that a brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the correct path". "There is a long record of Sweden interacting with North Korea on behalf of the Americans". Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations, with Sweden's Embassy in Pyongyang acting as a go-between for the two countries.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was in Washington on Friday for talks on North Korea and trade, as was Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who met U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in the morning.

"It was a good and constructive atmosphere".

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Ri made no comment as he left. "They will also address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, which is high on the Security Council agenda", said the Swedish Foreign Ministry in a statement. -North Korea interactions, but stressed it was up to the countries concerned to decide "which way we are going".

"We met in secret with senior North Koreans on 14 occasions", Deva said.

Global media have speculated that Sweden could either help set up a proposed summit or be a potential location if a tete-a-tete were to be confirmed.

The North Korean diplomat arrived in Sweden on Thursday and held discussions with both Wallstrom and the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Japanese broadcaster TBS said Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Moon discussed North Korea in a telephone call yesterday.

The idea that Trump and Kim would sit down together was unthinkable just months ago when North Korea was regularly testing weapons in its pursuit of developing a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Some reports have suggested that Japan is less optimistic than its allies in Seoul and Washington that the talks are a good idea, but USA officials said talks with both Kono and Kang at the State Department had gone well.

The presidential office says Seoul will propose holding a high-level meeting with Pyongyang late this month to help arrange the inter-Korean summit.

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