Friday, 21 September, 2018

North Korean foreign minister visits Sweden

The risks and rewards of talks with North Korea Sweden happy to host US-North Korea talks
Kenny Thornton | 17 March, 2018, 07:08

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Yun told CNN on Thursday that the North Koreans have wanted to meet with Trump for some time, but it was only recently agreed to because of disagreement within the Trump administration over how to handle North Korea.

Trump and Moon discussed the ongoing efforts to prepare for their upcoming engagements with the DPRK, the White House said in a statement.

"The two leaders expressed cautious optimism over recent developments and emphasized that a brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the correct path", the White House said of the call.

Swedish officials said Wallstrom's talks with Ri, which focused on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a possible Trump-Kim summit and which were to have concluded on Friday, would be extended by a day.

Pompeo has engaged with counterparts through a channel that runs between the Central Intelligence Agency. and North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi is also due to visit South Korea this month to discuss North Korea-related matters.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973 and is one of few Western countries with an embassy in Pyongyang. "We'll see what happens next", Wallstrom told reporters after Friday's talks.

Earlier in March, Trump agreed to meet Kim by May at the invitation of the DPRK leader "to achieve permanent denuclearization".

Moon also spoke with Trump on the phone on Friday, Yonhap reported. But he was sacked by President Donald Trump earlier this week.

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Even amid North Korea tensions, Trump has repeatedly denounced a USA free trade deal with ally South Korea as "unfair" and threatened many times to scrap it.

Trump and Moon were speaking as United States officials met the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers in Washington, and North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho met the Swedish prime minister in Stockholm.

The talks in Stockholm are to resume Saturday after they were initially scheduled to end Friday, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, did not answer directly whether his country had United States support to organize talks with North Korea. So far, North Korea has yet to comment publicly on what it hopes to gain from the talks.

While the CIA has established a special Korean Mission Center over the past year, the administration has still not appointed a US ambassador to South Korea, a position some analysts say should be central to managing clarity around Washington's posture toward any potential negotiations with Pyongyang. Kono had originally planned to hold talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "The foreign minister asked for the meeting while they were at the Olympics together". Kang and Kono, both of whom are on three-day visits to the USA, will meet Saturday in Washington.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry earlier said their discussions would focus on tensions between the two Koreas and Sweden's diplomatic work on behalf of the USA in North Korea.

A report on Friday by intelligence analysts at Jane's by IHS Markit said satellite imagery from February 25 showed gas emissions from a stack at the North's experimental light water reactor (ELWR), suggesting preliminary testing had likely begun.

The reactor could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, but North Korea is believed to already have enough fissile material for multiple nuclear bombs, according to Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

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