NATIONAL

Sweden to invite Pyongyang, US back to denuke negotiation table

By Kim Bo-gyung

Top Swedish envoy ‘cautiously optimistic’ on NK-US talks

  • Published : Oct 23, 2019 - 12:36
  • Updated : Oct 23, 2019 - 12:59

Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt, special envoy of the Swedish government to North Korea, said Wednesday morning that Sweden will suggest fresh working-level talks between Pyongyang and Washington after last month’s meeting ended without an agreement.

“Now we are ready to issue invitation for them to come again. Of course it needs to happen when they are ready. But from our side we will definitely try to convince them to move on in the process to the next step,” Harstedt said at a press conference at the Swedish Embassy in Seoul.

However, Harstedt did not provide details on when the invitation would be delivered.


Special envoy of the Swedish government to North Korea Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt (left) speaks at a press conference at the Swedish Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday morning. (Kim Bo-gyung/The Korea Herald)

Asked whether he believed Pyongyang and Washington would meet before the end of the year, he said, “I hope so and it is our ambition to continue this year.”

Harstedt expressed “cautious optimism” about the outcome of any future negotiations, saying, “I believe that both sides have a feeling of a historic window of opportunity.”

On the talks held near the Swedish capital last month, which ended without an agreement, he said: “It has been perceived as a meeting that was interrupted. (But) it was a full meeting and lasted a little bit longer than planned. It was also an opportunity … for the two parties to sit down and listen to each other,” Harstedt said.

Sweden established diplomatic ties with North Korea in 1973, becoming the first Western country to do so, and has often mediated between Pyongyang and other Western countries. It also hosted working-level nuclear discussions between the two Koreas and the US earlier this year.

As part of his three-day trip to Seoul, Harstedt met with his South Korean counterpart -- Lee Do-hoon, Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy -- Wednesday, and was scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul and SMEs and Startup Minister Park Young-sun, among others.

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)