North Korean minister in 'constructive' talks in Sweden


The summit was also discussed Friday in Washington by the top diplomats from South Korea, Japan and the U.S. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono met separately with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who is serving as Acting Secretary of State after Rex Tillerson was sacked by the president earlier this week.

Wallstr├Âm had talks with her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, on Thursday evening and Friday morning.

U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated his intention to meet with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May in a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday.

The Swedish foreign ministry said ahead of his visit that talks would focus on "Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia" but also would address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. He remains in close touch with the director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, said a USA official familiar with the preparations.

The DPRK launched several missile and nuclear tests a year ago, while the United States and South Korea have exerted the "maximum pressure" against the DPRK and held military drills around the Korean Peninsula, further escalating tensions.

And according to Yonhap, Moon stressed that improvement in Pyongyang's ties with Tokyo and Washington was needed to help end the crisis with North Korea.

"The security situation on the peninsula is one of the most pressing issues on the world agenda right now, and if Sweden can play a part in de-escalation there, this is what we're trying to do", Skoog told reporters in NY. The White House said the meeting wouldn't happen "until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea", but later clarified it "fully expects" the meeting to take place. He also met with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven earlier Friday.

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Ri made no comment as he left.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973, and is now one of the few western countries to have an embassy in Pyongyang.

After months of tension and warmongering over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, Trump has agreed to a summit proposal relayed by South Korean envoys who met Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. So far, North Korea has yet to publicly comment on what it hopes to gain from the talks.

Ri's visit to Stockholm, where he once served as a diplomat at the North Korean Embassy, has been shrouded in secrecy.

"We have always said we want to be a mediator that facilitates this process", Lofven said.

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 U.S. and North Korea and has hosted Kim's father, the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The trip by Ri is being closely watched because a huge amount of preparation needs to be done before the summit.