North Korea denuclearization not on the agenda in Helsinki talks: Finnish foreign minister


HELSINKI (Reuters) – Denuclearization is not on the agenda in the meeting with North Korean, South Korean and American delegations taking place in Helsinki, Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini said on Tuesday.

Choe Kang Il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, is attending the talks in Finland amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible U.S.-North Korean summit.

But Soini, speaking in an interview with Finnish broadcaster MTV, said North Korea’s nuclear programs were not on the table.

“This is a so-called 1.5 track meeting with academics and officials, with Finland only a facilitator … But since we talk about 1.5 track, I think there will be no talk about nuclear weapons.”

“It is good to have the discussion going on and take the use of this time frame that was opened between the South and North Korea before the (Winter) Olympics (last month),” Soini said.

No details on the talks have been given as yet.

North Korean and Swedish foreign ministers ended three days of talks on Saturday on security on the Korean peninsula in preparation for a potential meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea is pursuing its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Simon Johnson; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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