North Korea foreign minister meets Swedish PM
STOCKHOLM – Agence France-Presse
North Korea’s foreign minister held talks in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on March 16 amid reports Sweden could play a role in setting up a proposed summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un.
“They had a meeting. We will not disclose what they talked about,” Lofven’s spokesman Jonatan Holst told AFP.
Ri Yong Ho arrived in the Swedish capital on Thursday evening with Choe Kang Il, deputy director general of the foreign ministry’s North America section.
Ri held talks late March 15 and early March 16 with his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom, discussions which according to Swedish officials were to focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and a possible Trump-Kim summit.
No public statement from Ri or Wallstrom was expected after the conclusion of the talks on March 16 evening, but the foreign ministry said it would publish a statement.
Some Swedish and foreign media have said Ri will stay in the Scandinavian country until Sunday for other talks, though Swedish officials would not confirm those reports.
Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea. Its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang, which opened in 1975, was the first Western embassy established in the country.
The embassy also represents US, Canadian and Australian diplomatic interests in North Korea, with Sweden playing a key role in liaising diplomatic talks.
International 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.
Sweden’s foreign ministry has refused to comment on that possibility, saying only that the talks would “focus on Sweden’s consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia.”
“They will also address the security situation on the Korean peninsula, which is high on the [UN] Security Council agenda,” a ministry statement said. Sweden is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
“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 program, as well as those calling “for intensified diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
After months of tension and warmongering over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, Trump has agreed to a summit proposal relayed by South Korean envoys who met Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.
But no specific time or venue has been set and North Korea has yet to confirm it even made the offer to meet.
Lofven on March 15 said Sweden was “ready to” play a role if asked.