North Korea to meet informally with U.S., South Korea in Finland

By Jennie Oh  |  Updated March 18, 2018 at 2:07 PM
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SEOUL, March 18 (UPI) -- A North Korean diplomat will hold unofficial talks with South Korea and the United States this week in Finland, ahead of Pyongyang's upcoming summits with both countries.

Choe Kang Il, North Korea's Deputy Director-General for North American Affairs at the foreign ministry, was spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday as he boarded a morning plane to Helsinki, No Cut News reported.

The envoy told reporters that he had nothing to share at the moment and said he would speak to them when he returned.

Diplomatic sources in Seoul say Choe is set to hold a "1.5-track meeting" with South Korean security experts and former American diplomats including Kathleen Stephens who served as a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 2008 to 2011.

The meeting will likely take place at a Japanese Embassy in Helsink, Finnish media reported.

Kimmo Lahdevirta, head of the Asia desk at the Finnish foreign ministry, told STT that the meeting will be "academic" and "from the perspective of international relations."

Observers believe the parties will share their views on the denuclearization of North Korea as well as the inter-Korean summit in late-April and the subsequent U.S.-North Korea summit in May,Yonhap reported.

Choe has, in the past, participated in a working-level group for the multilateral Six Party Talks on dismantling the North's nuclear program as well as various diplomatic engagements with Seoul and Washington officials.

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