North Korea denuclearisation not on the agenda in Helsinki talks, Finland says

A North Korean delegation was in Finland for diplomatic talks. (Reuters pic)

HELSINKI: Denuclearisation is not on the agenda of a meeting in Finland between delegations from North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, 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 US-North Korean summit.

But Soini, speaking in an interview with Finnish broadcaster MTV, said North Korea’s nuclear programmes were not on the table at the talks that end on Wednesday.

“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.

The 18 delegates were secluded in talks at a 19th-century government manor outside town.

No statements were given when they left in the afternoon but South Korean delegate Kim Joon-Hyung, professor of international politics from Handong Global University, told reporters later that the talks had been “productive” and that the atmosphere had been good.

The meeting is one of a series of academic meetings over the years to explore Northeast Asian issues, the foreign ministry said in a statement earlier in the day.

“The meeting has been planned well in advance of recent promising developments related to the Korean situation,” it added.

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 US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea is pursuing its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the US mainland.