Sweden hosts North Korean foreign minister amid speculation


A Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Ri Yong Ho was in Stockholm to discuss with Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom the security situation on the Korean peninsula and Sweden's diplomatic representation of the United States in North Korea.

Sweden's embassy in Pyongyang also represents US, Canadian and Australian diplomatic interests in North Korea, with the country playing a key role in liaising diplomatic talks.

The discussions between Ri and Wallstrom are to "focus on Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia", the Swedish government said when the two-day visit was announced.

Ri is set to meet Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom later Thursday or on Friday.

'I think it's much too early to speculate about that. we're not there yet, ' Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told news agency TT.

North Korea's foreign minister has landed in Sweden for talks with his Swedish counterpart.

Ri's visit comes nearly a week after the surprise revelation that U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "by May". Kang called for active cooperation from the U.S. Congress for an exemption for South Korea, saying that the U.S.' move could unintentionally deal negative blows to bilateral trade relations and the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

"We have said that if we can support such a process, we are prepared to do so". The building is close to the embassies of South Korea and the United States.

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"But we are not naive in believing we can solve the world's problems".

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.

Löfven's comments came only a few days after he met President Trump at the White House and offered to be a "channel" in improving US-North Korea relations.

He said he did not expect the announcement of a date or location for a Trump-Kim meeting.

Lofven, speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, did not answer directly whether his country had US support to organize talks with North Korea.

"The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed", it added.

The Scandinavian country has longstanding ties with North Korea - its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang was the first Western embassy established in the country, in 1975.