North Korean foreign minister begins Sweden trip

Marco Green
March 17, 2018

James Schoff, a former Pentagon adviser on East Asia, said Japanese officials are unnerved by Trump's unpredictability and fear that the USA could reach a deal with Kim on long-range North Korean missiles that threaten the US without addressing the shorter-range weapons that threaten Japan.

The ministry referred to the United Nations security council's condemnation of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, saying the United Nations "emphasised the need for intensified diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict". He remains in close touch with the director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, said a US official familiar with the preparations.

Otto Warmbier, a US college student, died a year ago shortly after being sent home from Pyongyang in a coma following a 17-month detention in the North.

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who are both planning to meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un this spring, pledged Friday to maintain "maximum pressure" on his authoritarian regime and seek action on giving up his nukes, the White House said.

In a 35 minute telephone conversation Friday night, the presidents of South Korea and the USA agreed on the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past in dealing with North Korea. It did not mention engagement with the United States.

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

Trump announced last week that he had accepted an invite for discussions with North Korea, following a period of reproachment between the DPRK and South Korea during the latter's Winter Olympic Games.

Wallstrom's press secretary, Pezhman Fivrin, said the talks, which had been due to end late on Friday, would continue on Saturday.

Ri is set to meet Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom later Thursday or on Friday. Ri is said to have met with Sweden's foreign minister for dinner and talks. The summit, which Trump said would take place by May, would be the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Kang held talks later on Friday with Sullivan, who is standing in after Trump fired Tillerson.

Nauert said the United States was preparing for a possible summit with North Korea in good faith but had yet to hear directly from North Korea on the matter.

She stressed though that full denuclearization would "take a long while because the (North Korean nuclear) program is very advanced".

The Swedish foreign ministry has said talks "will focus on Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia", but also will address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

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 at the North's experimental light water reactor, suggesting preliminary testing had likely begun.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the Jane's report, calling it an intelligence issue.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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