Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

North Korean minister in 'constructive' talks in Sweden

North Korean minister in 'constructive' talks in Sweden

Swedish media say that a North Korean delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol paid a visit to Stockholm in late January and briefly met with Lofven and Wallstrom.

The talks about talks come after the head of the U.S. Pacific Command said the United States could not be overly optimistic about the outcome of any summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim, aimed at ending the North's nuclear and missile programmes, and must go into it with "eyes wide open".

Sweden is now a non-permanent member of the United Nations.

The United States has no need to test nuclear weapons because its arsenal is maintained by computers in the Stockpile Stewardship program.

"The aim of the visit is to contribute to the effective implementation of the resolutions" voted by the Security Council against Pyongyang over its nuclear programme as well as those calling "for intensified diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict".

An official at the South's defence ministry said authorities were aware of the Jane's report, which follows a similar one released on the 38 North website earlier this month that said a nearby reactor had also continued to show signs of operation.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that during the visit, Ri and his team will meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Wallstrom "to exchange views on the bilateral relations and issues of mutual concern".

The talks in Stockholm will also involve Sweden's consular responsibilities in North Korea, which include representing U.S. diplomatic interests.

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.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho landed at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on a direct flight from Beijing and spent several hours at the Swedish Foreign Ministry before returning to the North Korean Embassy.

North Korea's defiant nuclear and missile programme has led to severe worldwide sanctions against Pyongyang in the hope they would force the regime to abandon its military threats.

Ri made no comment as he left. They arrived at Sweden's Foreign Ministry for a dinner meeting around 8:20 p.m., which lasted till 11 p.m. The talks were to continue on Friday.

"It is not even certain that North Korea wants to have a meeting".

Experts have expressed skepticism that the meeting would take place, or that it would yield any results, and the White House has insisted that North Korea will have to meet specific conditions first. "We will not disclose what they talked about", said Lofven's spokesman Jonatan Holst. "With the trust we enjoy, we think we can play a role, but it has to be the main actors who decide which role Sweden will play".

Admiral Harris, meanwhile told the US Senate Armed Services Committee he was encouraged by the prospect of a summit, but that North Korea remained the biggest security threat in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr. Löfven, in an interview with Sweden's TT newswire, also cited his country's role as a protecting power for the United States as a reason for acting as a conduit between it and North Korea.

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