US Envoy Says He Urged North Korea to Release Americans Before Summit

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 18, 2018

"The discussions will focus on Sweden's consular role as a protective force for the United States, Canada and Australia", a foreign ministry statement said.

Kim has yet to formally announce a shift in his nuclear-armed stance, as the US reportedly scheduled the resumption of military drills on the Korean Peninsula and Trump suddenly removed Rex Tillerson in exchange for a more hardline CIA Director Mike Pompeo as head of the State Department.

Sweden was one of the first non-communist countries to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1973.

South Korean-born Yun, a strong advocate for engagement with Pyongyang, led contact with North Korea and quietly pursued direct diplomacy since taking his post under former President Barack Obama in 2016.

The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is also on the agenda.

The U.S. -North Korea summit talks were brokered by Moon's envoys, who met with Kim Jong Un during a March 5-6 Pyongyang trip.

North Korea's ruling Kim dynasty has long sought to develop nuclear weapons and ICBMs capable of delivering them as an effective deterrent against potential USA military action.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters before leaving for the USA that she will do her best to prevent any possible disruptions in communication between the allies, a concern that has been spawned by President Donald Trump's recent firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Her visit takes place amid concerns that the sudden departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could undermine coordination between Seoul and Washington at a time when their leaders are preparing to negotiate with the North Korean leader.

Trump and Kim have a year-long history of acrimonious rhetoric, with Trump notably threatening the North Korean leader, whom he has called "little rocket man", with "fire and fury" and Kim retorting "a frightened dog barks louder" after Trump addressed the UN.

They were apparently referring to the failure to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear development program.

The reactor could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, but North Korea is believed to already have enough fissile material for multiple nuclear bombs, according to Mr Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in California.

He said that the talks between Trump and Kim would only be successful if there are no preconditions.

Sweden has longstanding ties with North Korea.

Taking into account that the country's foreign and national security policies have been moved forward under the White House leadership, with the stature of the State Department in eclipse, the possible impact of a change in the secretary of state can be considered limited.

The closest contact Pyongyang has had with a USA administration came in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, visited the country to lay the groundwork for a mooted meeting between the countries' leaders.

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