Sweden happy to help on N. Korea

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and his delegation arriving at the North Korean embassy in Sweden, which is a possible venue for the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and his delegation arriving at the North Korean embassy in Sweden, which is a possible venue for the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

STOCKHOLM • Sweden is happy to help resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula, but it is up to the parties involved to try to find a way forward, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has said.

She was speaking yesterday, a day after North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho landed in Sweden for talks, prompting speculation the visit could lay the groundwork for a meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We believe in dialogue and political process," Ms Wallstrom told reporters. "We are hoping that if we can use our role and contacts, we will put them to the best use."

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

Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea. Its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang, which opened in 1975, was the first Western embassy established in the country.

At a news conference in Washington last week, Mr Trump thanked Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven for helping American detainees in North Korea and particularly in securing the release of US student Otto Warmbier last year.

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

A source declined to comment but told Reuters the bilateral talks would end yesterday.

"We can't rule out the possibility of a contact between the North and the US" during Mr Ri's visit, a Beijing source told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2018, with the headline 'Sweden happy to help on N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe