Korean Foreign Minister meets Swedish PM in Stockholm

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The visit was a way of preparing the ground for possible talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The two leaders expressed "cautious optimism" over recent developments and emphasized that a brighter future is available for Pyongyang "if it chooses the correct path".

There had been speculation that Pyongyang might do so Friday, when Ri Yong Ho met Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, but afterwards Swedish officials said the talks would be extended into Saturday.

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.

TBS said Abe told Moon he wanted North Korea to not only suspend nuclear and missile testing, but also accept International Atomic Energy Inspectors on its soil.

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"The security situation on the peninsula is one of the most pressing issues on the world agenda right now, and if Sweden can play a part in de-escalation there, this is what we're trying to do", Skoog told reporters in NY.

Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea.

After months of tension and warmongering over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, Trump has agreed to a summit proposal relayed by South Korean envoys who met Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

An exact time and location for the Trump-Kim meeting have not been set.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Prime Minister told his country's news agency TT that "if the main actors (North Korea and the US) want Sweden to play a role (in holding a summit), then we are ready to do that". So far, North Korea has yet to comment publicly on what it hopes to gain from the talks.

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Kang held talks later on Friday with Sullivan, who is standing in after Trump fired Tillerson. "The foreign minister asked for the meeting while they were at the Olympics together".

The Japanese and South Korean ministers were expected to meet in Washington on Saturday.

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".

On Thursday, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, cautioned the United States could not be overly optimistic about the outcome of any summit between Trump and Kim and must go into it with "eyes wide open".

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.

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An official at South Korea's defence ministry said authorities were aware of the Jane's report, which follows a similar one on the 38 North website this month that said a nearby reactor had also continued to show signs of operation.

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