Talks held over the weekend in Stockholm between representatives from Washington, Seoul, and Pyongyang were constructive, the Swedish government said Monday.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, and South Korea’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs took part in the discussions, which were held over three days at a heavily-guarded resort north of the Swedish capital.
“Constructive talks have been held covering issues concerning developments on the Korean peninsula, including confidence building, economic development and long-term engagement,” a spokesperson for Sweden’s foreign ministry said.
Representatives of both the U.S. and North Korea departed the Swedish capital on Monday, though details on the outcome of the meetings are yet to emerge.
Also over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held phone discussions with his counterparts in Tokyo and Seoul, updating “each other on respective U.S. and ROK engagements with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the State Department said in a press release.
“Secretary Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono to discuss next steps on DPRK engagement. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kono reaffirmed our commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK,” the State Department added.
The discussions followed a visit from high ranking North Korean official Kim Yong Chol to Washington last week, who met with both Secretary of State Pompeo and President Donald Trump during his visit.
A second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was formally announced following Kim’s meetings in Washington and is currently scheduled for the end of February and widely expected to take place in Vietnam.
Both the White House and the Department of State seemed upbeat on the renewed diplomatic activity, which follows a period where both sides appeared at an impasse.
“Secretary Pompeo and Special Representative Steve Biegun had a good discussion this morning with DPRK Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol on efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said last week.
President Trump, too, on Saturday said “a lot of progress” had been made during his meeting with Kim.
“We are talking about a lot of different things. Things are going very well with North Korea,” the President said. “We’ve agreed to meet sometime, probably the end of February. We’ve picked a country but we’ll be announcing it in the future. Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it and so am I.”
Pompeo also dismissed criticism of Washington’s North Korea policy during an interview the Sinclair Broadcast Group on Sunday, saying that Trump has “made enormous strides in working with North Korea to get their commitment to denuclearize.”
“It’s the first time a North Korean leader has met with a United States president, looked him in the eye and said I’ll do it,” Pompeo said when asked why Washington’s current approach would be different to previous attempts aimed at denuclearizing the DPRK.
Edited by Oliver Hotham