Kang emphasizes S.Korea-US coordination ahead of summits

01 trump kim jong un split

The two ministers are likely to discuss issues such as North Korea's ongoing detention of three U.S. citizens ahead of the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea's foreign minister on Thursday flew into Beijing en route to Stockholm for talks which could play a role in setting up a proposed summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

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

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 Swedish foreign ministry said there would not be any press conferences during his visit but that it would publish a statement on Friday evening after the conclusion of talks.

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

It is one of the few western states with a diplomatic channel to the North Korean leadership and may be able to smooth out obstacles in the path of a summit meeting.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is in Stockholm for two days of talks with Wallstrom.

"We really want to help out", Lofven said in an interview with Sweden's TV4 network.

'We can not be naive and think that Sweden is going to resolve these problems, ' he said.

Meanwhile, the top diplomat is also scheduled to have telephone talks with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, other government officials added, referring to Seoul's efforts to counter the United States' recent decision to impose heavy tariffs on steel imports, including those from South Korea.

Ri, a former diplomat in Stockholm and London and an ex-nuclear envoy with broad experience in negotiating with rivals South Korea and the United States, was tapped as Pyongyang's foreign minister in 2016. "It is up to the parties to decide how to move forward", Wallstrom said Friday before meeting Ri.

In 2015, North Korea arrested Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American man, on suspicion of espionage.

Since Trump's surprise announcement last week that he was willing to meet Kim, speculation has mounted over what location might be chosen to host what would be the first-ever meeting between serving leaders of the two countries.

A source close to the matter said he may make contact with the United States in a third-party country.

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