U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun flew to Sweden after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man in Washington for four days of marathon talks with officials from the North.
The talks will focus on the time, location and agenda of the second U.S.-North Korea summit. Biegun and Choe Son-hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister, met at a retreat outside Stockholm, where they will be talking until Tuesday. South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Lee Do-hoon also arrived there on Friday to mediate.
The secluded venue is a favored place among Swedish businesspeople to engage in negotiations without intrusion.
Journalists were not allowed to get close as armed guards stood watch at entrances, as drones hovered overhead. Around 30 reporters from Sweden and Japan flocked to the retreat but were kept away by Swedish police.
A couple of days earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man at the White House for an hour and a half on Friday. Kim Yong-chol gave Trump a personal letter from the North Korean leader.
The White House did not announce the exact date and location of the second U.S.-North Korea summit, but White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it will take place around late February.
The North Korean official suggested dismantling the North's intercontinental ballistic missiles in return for easing of U.S.-led sanctions, but Trump apparently made no promises.
Sanders said, "The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization."
Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday, "We have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization is concerned and we're talking about a lot of different things." He seems wary of criticism that no concrete progress has been made since his first summit with the North Korean leader in Singapore last year.
North Korea's state media made no mention of Kim Yong-chol's U.S. trip.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui (second from right) leaves the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm with Swedish and North Korean officials on Friday.
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) talks to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol (fourth from right) and other officials at the White House in Washington D.C. on Friday. /Newsis