USA envoy says he urged North Korea to release Americans before summit

01 trump kim jong un split

Sweden is one of a handful of places analysts believe could host the meeting, along with Switzerland, the neutral nation where Kim went to school; the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea; and China, which has diplomatic relations with the United States and North Korea and has hosted Kim's father, the late Kim Jong Il.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was in Washington on Friday for talks expected to focus on North Korea and trade, as was Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who met US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in the morning.

Trump accepted an invitation from Kim when a South Korean delegation delivered it verbally in Washington.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in credited Trump's "maximum pressure" approach, including wide-ranging sanctions on North Korea, for the diplomatic thaw.

Japan was led by Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Shuji Yuge, director in charge of global policies at the Japanese Defense Ministry.

Before a date or a venue for the summit can be set, North Korea will have to publicly confirm that it sent the invitation and intends to honour it, by attending a meeting to discuss giving up its nuclear arsenal.

"They will also address the security situation on the Korean peninsula, which is high on the (UN) Security Council agenda", a ministry statement said.

South Korea diplomats said North Korea has agreed to discuss "denuclearization" at the talks, planned for May, though the hermit kingdom has long demanded a removal of USA troops in its southern neighbor in exchange.

The country has had diplomatic relations with Pyongyang since 1973 and provides support for American interests there.

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Meanwhile, South Korea on Friday said it will seek another round of high-level talks with North Korea this month in preparation for a full-scale summit, the presidential chief of staff said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden is hoping that "we can use our role and also our contacts", but stressed that it is up to the countries concerned to decide "which way we are going".

"We met in secret with senior North Koreans on 14 occasions", Deva said.

"We have always said we want to be a mediator that facilitates this process", Lofven said.

Worldwide media have speculated that Sweden could either help set up a summit or be a potential location if a tete-a-tete were to be confirmed.

Yun said he hoped the summit would open the way to further talks on easing US concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

"We are not sending any representation", she said, adding that the United States was preparing for the summit in good faith, but has yet to hear from Pyongyang on the matter.

He also asked Seoul to raise the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North.

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