Korea

North Korea-Sweden Talks Focus on ‘Peaceful Solution’ to Nuclear Conflict

The Swedish and North Korean foreign ministers concluded three days of talks in Stockholm on Saturday over the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, discussions that may help facilitate a meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

The two sides “discussed opportunities and challenges for continued diplomatic efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” according to a statement issued by the Swedish Foreign Ministry at the end of the talks between Ri Yong-ho, the North’s foreign minister, and his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom.

The statement added: “Sweden underlined the need for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arms and missiles program in line with several Security Council resolutions.”

Tensions between North Korea and the West, notably the United States, have lowered in recent weeks, but the two sides traded a series of threats and insults late last year, raising the specter of armed conflict.

Still, even as fears of a confrontation have subsided to some degree, the decision by Mr. Trump to accept an invitation from Mr. Kim for a meeting shocked diplomats and experts.

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In one sign of easing relations, this year’s joint South Korean-American military exercises are expected to be shorter in duration and deploy fewer military assets. Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported Friday that the exercises will last only a month instead of two, and that B1-bombers and aircraft carriers would not take part, as they have in the past.

Pyongyang has long opposed the annual drills, viewing them as preparation for an attack.

The talks in Stockholm also touched on Sweden’s role in North Korea as a diplomatic stand-in for the United States, Canada and Australia, which do not have a presence there. Sweden provides so-called protective consular services for those countries, including meeting with citizens imprisoned there.

Other topics included humanitarian conditions in North Korea, sanctions, regional cooperation and security issues for South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States, according to the Swedish ministry.

In addition to his talks with the foreign minister, Mr. Ri met with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Friday morning.

Read more at The New York Times

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Christina Anderson