Sweden, North Korea talks extended to Saturday

Moon Jae-in Xi Jinping

The committee also chose to push for performances in Pyongyang by South Korea's art troupe and taekwondo demonstration team early next month as was agreed between the South Korean presidential envoys and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un early last week.

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

Talks between Ri and his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom will "focus on Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the US, Canada and Australia", the Swedish government said, announcing the two-day visit.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had originally been scheduled to hold two days of talks with Wallstrom in Stockholm.

Sweden was one of the first non-communist countries to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1973.

What exactly is Sweden doing in North Korea?

"We met in secret with senior North Koreans on 14 occasions".

The historically neutral European country, whose embassy represents U.S. interests in the North Korean capital, has often played the role of intermediary in discussions between Washington and Pyongyang.

The Swedish ministry said a statement summarizing the talks will be made available Friday. Moon plans to meet Kim by the end of April.

"If we can use our contacts in the best way, we will do so", Wallstrom said, noting the situation on the Korean peninsula was "of interest to us all".

Trump and Moon "agreed that concrete actions, not words, will be the key to achieving permanent denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and President Trump reiterated his intention to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by the end of May", the White House said.

South Korea said on Friday it was seeking high-level talks this month with North Korea to prepare for a summit and that South Korean President Moon Jae-in may meet Donald Trump before the US president's planned meeting with the North Korean leader.

The closest contact Pyongyang has had with a USA administration came in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, visited the country to lay the groundwork for a mooted meeting between the countries' leaders.

"I think we're cautiously optimistic that the talks will happen and that this will be a breakthrough for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue", Kang told the PBS NewsHour.

The North Korean diplomat arrived in Sweden on Thursday and held discussions with both Wallstrom and the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

The idea that Trump and Kim would sit down together was unthinkable just months ago when North Korea was regularly testing weapons in its pursuit of developing a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Signs of easing tension with North Korea began during the Winter Olympics last month, when the North sent a high-level delegation to the South for the Games, after more than a year of rising alarm over the North's nuclear weapon and missile tests.

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