North Korea foreign minister meets Swedish PM


According to the channel's foreign policy analyst Erika Bjerström, the meeting between Ri and Wallström meeting had been scheduled for months, but the agenda changed to accommodate recent diplomatic developments involving proposed talks between the North and South Korean leaders in late April and between Kim and President Donald Trump by the end of May.

North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho is visiting Sweden for high-level talks with his counterpart Margot Wallström, spurring speculation over the Scandinavian country's role in arranging proposed talks between the USA and Kim Jong Un's regime.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha arrived in Washington Thursday to meet with US officials over the two nations' planned summits with North Korea. North Korea's top diplomat arrived in Sweden on March 15, for two days of talks.

In that role, he held back-channel talks with North Korean officials, and traveled to Pyongyang a year ago to help secure the release of imprisoned United States student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after his return to the US. "We'll see what happens next", Wallstrom told reporters after Friday's talks.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973 and is one of the few Western countries with an embassy in Pyongyang.

Ri and Wallstrom dined at the foreign ministry on Thursday evening, then met again on Friday at Villa Bonnier, a lavish building near the United States embassy used by the government for official functions.

"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". Ri's trip prompted speculation it could lay the groundwork for the summit in Sweden between Trump and Kim.

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.

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. "We will not disclose what they talked about", Lofven's spokesman Jonatan Holst told AFP.

Trump has agreed to meet Kim by May.