North Korean minister's Swedish visit fuels Trump-Kim expectations

Kim Jong Un

North Korea's foreign minister is expected to meet his Swedish counterpart for a second day on Friday after making a surprise trip to Stockholm that has fuelled expectations about a possible meeting between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Ri Yong Ho held talks in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom a week after the US President agreed to a historic summit with the North Korean leader.

The source said it was important to build confidence between Washington and Pyongyang, adding: "The United States wants to have help with consular matters and North Korea wants to be sure that no one is going to invade".

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

"Right now, dialogue is needed and we are happy to have this meeting". But we're not naive, we don't think we can solve the world's problems.

"We'll see what happens next", Wallstrom said. "We are hoping that if we can use our role and also our contacts there, we will put it to the best use, and then it's for the parties to decide".

Ri's delegation included Choe Kang Il, deputy director general of the foreign ministry's North America section. During Ri's meeting with the prime minister, they also discussed confidence-building measures with the U.S., including the release of American citizens from detention in North Korea. "We will not disclose what they talked about", Mr Lofven's spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT reported, without citing sources, that Ri planned to stay in Sweden until Sunday.

Worldwide 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.

The Swedish foreign ministry said their talks with the North Korea nminister would "focus on Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia", but would also address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

"Sweden fully supports the Security Council resolutions".

The trip by Ri is being closely watched because there remains a huge amount of preparation that needs to be done and relatively little time before Kim is supposedly planning to sit down for summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump.

Abe has made the abductions a keystone of his political career, vowing not to rest until all 13 of the people North Korea admitted to kidnapping have returned and the isolated state divulges information about the others Japan suspects were taken to train North Korean spies.

The assistant USA secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who will be in charge of dealing with North Korea, was nominated in December a year ago, but a Senate confirmation hearing has yet to take place.

The ministry referred to the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, saying the U.N.



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