Spies, not diplomats, take lead role in planning Trump's North Korea meeting

North Korea's foreign minister to visit Sweden today

Spies, not diplomats, take lead role in planning Trump's North Korea meeting

After the meeting, Kono told reporters that he believes North Korea will act toward denuclearization in phases. -North Korea summit scheduled for May and at the inter-Korean summit slated for late April at the truce village of Panmunjom. The venue will be neither Washington nor Pyongyang but Sweden.

"Concerning deployment of Aegis Ashore, we have many times explained to the Russian party that it is important for settlement of the North Korean nuclear and missile problem", Kono said, as quoted by the NHK broadcaster.

Sweden has been rumoured as a possible site for the summit between Kim and Trump, though a truce village on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas is seen as more likely.

She said that South Korea is prepared for the long haul andits approach will be with "clear eyes, nerves of steel and a clear goal inmind".

Even amid North Korea tensions, Trump has repeatedly denounced a USA free trade deal with ally South Korea as "unfair" and threatened many times to scrap it.

From Washington, Trump called his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, whose government last week passed an apparent summit invitation to Trump from Kim. Ri also met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Sweden extended assistance to American detainees in North Korea and was instrumental in securing the release of US student Otto Warmbier past year.

Ri, a former diplomat in Stockholm and London and an ex-nuclear envoy with experience negotiating with rivals South Korea and the United States, was tapped as Pyongyang's foreign minister in 2016.

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Wallstrom said Friday that she had "good and constructive" talks and "we value this opportunity to arrange a meeting".

Some reports have speculated the Scandinavian country is involved in paving the way for an expected meeting between the leaders of the USA and North Korea before the end of May.

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

Ri's delegation included Choe Kang Il, deputy director general of the foreign ministry's North America section.

The potential summit has raised hopes for a breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear issue.

While pledging to keep maximum pressure on Pyongyang, Trump and Moon "expressed cautious optimism over recent developments and emphasized that a brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the correct path", it said.

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. We do not think that we can solve this issue.

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