October 4, 2019 / 2:42 PM / 2 months ago

Top U.S. negotiator in Stockholm ahead of North Korea talks

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun leaves a meeting at the Swedish Foreign Ministry in Stockholm, Sweden, October 4, 2019. REUTERS/Niklas Pollard

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The U.S. top negotiator on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, met Sweden’s special envoy to the isolated country in Stockholm on Friday before expected talks with North Korean officials at the weekend.

A delegation from North Korea landed in Stockholm on Thursday.

Biegun, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, and his Swedish counterpart, Kent Harstedt, declined to comment to reporters. Sweden’s foreign ministry and the U.S. embassy in Sweden also declined comment.

The meeting expected at the weekend with North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, will be the first formal working-level talks since U.S. 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 February.

Lower-level discussions were expected on Friday to prepare for the weekend talks.

Analysts told Reuters the leaders of both countries face growing incentives to reach a deal though it remains unclear whether common ground can be found after months of tension and deadlock.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it had successfully test-fired a new ballistic missile designed for submarine launch, a day after North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said working-level talks would be held with the United States on Oct. 5.

Reporting by Simon Johnson, Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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