Sweden says happy to help on North Korea amid summit speculation


Last week, US President Donald Trump accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a summit and proposed to hold talks before the end of May.

Sweden is among a number of countries touted as a possible venue for what would be a historic meeting between Trump and Kim, who have engaged in bellicose mudslinging over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Senior South Korean officials who travelled to Pyongyang earlier this month and met with Kim say he is willing to discuss the North's nuclear weapons program.

South Korea's top diplomat has asked for continued support from U.S. congressional leaders for efforts to resolve issues related to the Korean Peninsula, ranging from security to trade and economic cooperation between the allies, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea.

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

Margot Wallstrom refused to comment on whether she and North Korea's Ri Yong Ho discussed a Trump-Kim meeting in brief comments as she left the Stockholm villa where the meeting took place.

"It was a good and constructive atmosphere".

Wallstrom was expected to hold further talks with Ri on Friday.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry earlier said their discussions would focus on tensions between the two Koreas and Sweden's diplomatic work on behalf of the United States in North Korea. Ri's delegation included Choe Kang Il, deputy director general of the foreign ministry's North America section.

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Sweden, which is not a NATO member, has for instance helped with the release of United States citizens held by the North. The minister later met with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other lawmakers, including Rep.

Swedish officials have said the Stockholm talks would focus on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a possible Trump-Kim summit.

Worldwide media have speculated that Sweden could either help set up a summit or be a potential location if a tete-a-tete were to be confirmed.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT meanwhile said the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) was involved in the talks, though SIPRI did not return AFP's calls for a comment.

Ri and Lofven met at the government headquarters in the Swedish capital.

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. She also asked for their continued interest in and support for efforts to resolve issues facing Korea.

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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.