Trump, Kim have chance at history

South Korea prepares to negotiate as Trump politicizes trade

US President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his plan to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May during a call with South Korea's president, voicing "cautious optimism" over recent developments, the White House says.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (C) leaves the Swedish goverment building Rosenbad in central Stockholm on March 16, 2018.

A Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Ri Yong Ho was in Stockholm to discuss with Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom the security situation on the Korean peninsula and Sweden's diplomatic representation of the United States in North Korea.

Yet anyone who has watched the sad history of US interaction with North Korea knows that Pyongyang always plays a multi-layer game while Washington focuses narrowly on one goal.

"He has made China a major trade and economic enemy and North Korea is a major focus of conflict bordering on military action".

Sweden was one of the first non-communist countries to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1973.

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

"We've chose to narrow down the agenda topics to denuclearising the Korean peninsula, securing permanent peace to ease military tension and new, bold ways to take inter-Korean relations forward", said Im, who is head of the preparation team.

The trip to Sweden comes as Nirj Deva, the chair of a European parliamentary delegation, told reporters that his group has been holding secret meetings with senior members of the North Korean regime over the past three years to try to convince it to return to peace talks.

For his part, Moon said inter-Korean relations could advance only if North Korea improves its ties not just with the USA but Japan as well, according to South Korean sources.

But we have enough of a track record from North Korea to anticipate some kind of unpleasant surprise.

The closest contact Pyongyang has had with a U.S. administration came in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, visited the country to lay the groundwork for a mooted meeting between the countries' leaders.

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"The aim of the visit is to contribute to the effective implementation of the resolutions" voted by the Security Council against Pyongyang over its nuclear program, as well as those calling "for intensified diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict".

Experts say the recent appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, known for his hawkish position on foreign policy, as the new US secretary of state is President Donald Trump's attempt to flex muscles at possible talks with North Korea.

The Trump administration was wary about Moon pushing for greater ties with North Korea even as Pyongyang carried out its biggest ever nuclear test explosion and test-fired intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"The pause in escalation that we see right now is temporary", he said, noting that Pyongyang will eventually "need to prove its capabilities in the nuclear sphere".

"As we go into this, I think we can't be overly optimistic on outcomes".

South Korea's presidential office said Abe expressed hopes for talks with North Korea following the pair of key summits.

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"We don't have any information that that meeting is about what we anticipate to be a meeting between the United States, other parties, and North Korea", she said, referring this question to the Swedish government.

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