After North Korea increased tensions with a test-firing of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile in August as a reaction to South Korea-US military exercise, negotiations between the US and North Korea had come to a stall.
Now, officials of both countries are expected to meet on Friday in Stockholm( capital of Sweden) to renew their formal working-level nuclear talks.
The two sides are expected to have “preliminary contact” in Stockholm in the morning before their first official negotiations since the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The exact time and venue for Friday’s meeting are yet to be announced.
The deputy chiefs of the countries’ delegations — Mark Lambert of the US and Kwon Jong-gun of the North — are expected to attend the preliminary session which might also the see the participation of US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and his counterpart and former ambassador to Vietnam Kim Myong-gil.
Korean delegation chief Kim Myong-gil is optimistic about the upcoming session in Sweden.
“As the US side sent a new signal, I bear high expectations and optimism, and I am also optimistic about the results,” Yonhap quoted the official as telling reporters at Beijing International Capital Airport en route to Sweden.
On Wednesday, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile designed for submarine launch.
Donald Trump downplayed the Korean test in remarks to press in Washington, stating that the two countries would be meeting soon, Aljazeera reported.
The meeting in Stockholm will be the first formal working-level talks since the leaders of the two nations met in June, vowing to renew negotiations that had stalled after the failed attempt in February 2019.
The longest running nuclear programme, the Yongbyan nuclear site, will be a point of contention during talks, as many estimate. Kim Jong-un had offered to close the site during the Hanoi summit in February with Trump, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions which the US officials said were too many.
Meanwhile, Seoul’s foreign ministry has not sent anyone to Sweden but will be keeping a close watch on the resumption of the negotiations between the US and the North. In a parliamentary audit on Thursday, South Korean Ambassador to the UN Cho Tae-yul said that North should “change course” and dismiss the idea that time may be on its side further adding, “There is no guarantee that the Trump administration’s position will remain flexible to maintain the momentum for dialogue, I think it could be the last chance for the North.” Yonhap quoted him as saying.