Representatives from North Korea and the United States hold talks in Norway
South Korean and Japanese media write that representatives from North Korea and the United States are holding talks in Oslo these days.
Spokesman Shi Xiang of China’s Foreign Ministry said that China hopes the talks will contribute positively to the relationship between the US and North Korea, according to Japanese TBS News. He says the talks will take place in Oslo, but it is not clear who is the facilitator. Also Japanese TV Asahi writes about the alleged meeting. According to the website, former employees of the US Department of Foreign Affairs will meet North Korean officials in Oslo, but the television station Fuji TV states that from the US there is an academic group participating.
The news agency Reuters’ Japanese Department writes that the United States is open to inviting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un to a summit if the military dictatorship refrains from the development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says to NTB that they will not comment on questions related to any Norwegian involvement in peace and reconciliation work.
According to news agency UPI, citing Yonhap, the North Korean officials meet former US officials to a round of informal talks over two days. According to UPI, Choi Sun Hee, head of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s North America office, is expected to represent North Korea in the talks. It is not known who is participating from the US, but it is speculated that it might be the former mediator Robert Gallucci.
A spokesperson for the US Department of Foreign Affairs says the information concerns a so-called Track 2 meeting, according to Dagbladet.
It is a type of meeting that is held routinely and deals with various topics worldwide and is happening independently of the US authorities.
– Track 2 diplomacy deals with diplomacy between non-official persons, writes the newspaper.
According to what the NRK experiences, the Norwegian authorities do not arrange any meeting between the United States and North Korea, but it is not excluded that a meeting may be in the pipe-line, but arranged by other actors.
Director of the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), Kristian Berg Harpviken, told NTB that Japanese media has contacted him about the matter on Monday, but unfortunately it is not a case complex he follows.
Harpviken cites Pope Francis in late April called for negotiations to resolve the tense situation related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions. The Pope then mentioned Norway as a possible mediator.
– There are many mediators in the world that have made themselves available. For example, Norway is ready to help, the Pope said.
– The Pope made his statement one and a half weeks ago, and then I admit that I thought it is very different than the peace processes Norway has profiled on earlier. Norway has almost exclusively mediated in civil war situations, says Harpviken.
The PRIO director says he finds it difficult to see what Norway has to ensure a good position in this context, but never to exclude anything 100 percent.
– But a choice of Oslo and Norway is so unobvious that I would have been surprised if it is correct, says Harpviken.
VG writes that according to their information, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the information that there may be talks between North Koreans and Americans in Norway. They also say that there is supposedly not talks under the auspices of Norwegian authorities.
Kjell Magne Bondevik, who is now head of the Oslo Center, denies to VG that they have had anything to do with the alleged negotiations.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today