Mon, Mar 19, 2018 - Page 5 News List

No news on Kim-Trump summit as Sweden talks end


North Korean officials have wrapped up three days of talks with Swedish counterparts with no indication their efforts cleared the way for a mooted nuclear summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a senior Pyongyang diplomat yesterday headed to Finland for further meetings.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the Stockholm talks had discussed “bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern,” without providing further details.

The meeting in Sweden came a week after Trump agreed to a summit proposal relayed by South Korean envoys who met Kim in Pyongyang.

His response triggered a race to set a credible agenda for what would be historic talks between the two leaders.

However, no specific time or venue has been set and North Korea has yet to confirm it even made the offer to meet.

Choe Kang-il, deputy director for North American affairs at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was yesterday seen at Beijing airport departing for Finland, where he is expected to hold talks with former US ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens, multiple media reports said.

Earlier reports had listed Choe among the North’s delegation to Sweden.

Choe, experienced in negotiations with the US, is expected to meet the retired US diplomat as well as other retired South Korean diplomats, the South’s Yonhap news agency said, citing an unnamed diplomatic source.

“But no current US or South Korean officials will be there,” Yonhap quoted the source in Seoul as saying.

In Stockholm, the Swedes were seeking to pave the way for talks that could end a threat of nuclear war, using the leverage of their long-standing ties with Pyongyang, where its diplomatic mission opened in 1975.

The embassy represents US, Canadian and Australian diplomatic interests, giving Sweden a key liaison role and facilitating the talks in Stockholm between Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom and North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho.

Ri also met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who on Friday said that Sweden hoped to be a summit “facilitator."

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