Mike Pompeo says lot of work to be done at nuclear talks with North Korea
The meeting represents the first formal talks since Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump met in June
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said nuclear talks between US and North Korean officials starting on Saturday near Stockholm to try to end months of stalemate needed to accomplish a lot of work, but added he was hopeful of progress.
The meeting at an isolated conference centre on the Swedish capital's outskirts will be the first formal working-level talks since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June and agreed to restart negotiations that stalled after a failed summit in Vietnam in February.
Police had closed off the approaches to the complex facing the Baltic Sea on the island of Lidingo, where the delegations led by US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and North Korea's Kim Myong Gil were expected to meet.
Two motorcades entered the secluded centre early on Saturday with a police officer confirming one carried the North Korean officials. The other included cars used by Mr Biegun when he met Swedish Foreign Ministry officials on Friday.
The delegation from North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is under sanctions banning much of its trade due to its nuclear programme, arrived in Sweden on Thursday after Pyongyang unexpectedly said talks would take place on October 5.
Speaking during a visit to Athens on the last leg of a tour of southern Europe, Mr Pompeo said he was hopeful of progress in the nuclear talks although there was much work to do.
"I'm hopeful that we will (make progress). We came with a set of ideas, we hope the North Koreans came with a good spirit and a willingness to try to move forward and implement what President Trump and Chairman Kim agreed to back in Singapore," he told a news conference.
Mr Pompeo said that still "a lot of work needs to be done".
At the Singapore meeting in June 2018, Mr Kim and Mr Trump agreed to foster new relations and work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Earlier on Saturday, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Ann Linde had given Sweden's first acknowledgment of the negotiations while a foreign ministry spokesman also confirmed the working-level talks.
"I am encouraged that US and DPRK working level delegations are currently in Sweden to hold talks. Dialogue needed to reach denuclearisation and peaceful solution," Ms Linde said on Twitter.
Analysts have said the leaders of both countries face growing incentives to reach a deal, although it is unclear whether common ground can be found after months of tension and deadlock.
Only a day after announcing the resumption of talks, North Korea said it had test-fired a new ballistic missile designed for submarine launch, a provocative gesture that also underscored the need for Washington to move quickly to negotiate limits on Pyongyang's growing arsenal.
Updated: October 5, 2019 05:07 PM