The Latest: North Korean foreign minister begins Sweden trip

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Latest on North Korean foreign minister’s trip to Sweden (all times local):

7:00 p.m.

North Korea’s foreign minister has landed in Sweden for talks with his Swedish counterpart.

The rare visit could be a first step toward a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho arrived at Stockholm’s international Arlanda airport Thursday afternoon on a direct flight from Beijing,

Ri is set to meet Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom later Thursday or on Friday.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973 and is one of the few Western countries with an embassy in Pyongyang. It provides consular services for the U.S. in North Korea.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the Swedes were ready to help if “key actors want Sweden to play a role, facilitate (talks), be a forum or a link or whatever it may be.”

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9:30 a.m.

North Korea’s foreign minister is visiting Sweden, a move that can be seen as a first step toward the Scandinavian country hosting a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry says Ri Yong Ho will meet his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom during his rare trip abroad Thursday.

The ministry said talks “will focus on Sweden’s consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia,” but also will also address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

It added that a statement summarizing the talks will be made available Friday.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973, and is now one of the few western countries to have an embassy in Pyongyang.

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