March 21, 2018 / 10:44 AM / 9 months ago

North Korean, South Korean, U.S. delegates had constructive meeting, host Finland says

VANTAA, Finland (Reuters) - Informal talks held in Finland between North Korean, South Korean and U.S. delegates ended on Wednesday, the Finnish foreign ministry said, describing the talks as constructive.

Some 18 delegates from the three countries, including Choe Kang Il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, came to Finland earlier this week for a “track 2” conference amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible U.S.-North Korean summit.

“This meeting was one of a series of academic sessions over many years that have explored approaches to building confidence and reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Director General Kimmo Lahdevirta from the Finnish foreign ministry told reporters in front of a government manor out of town in which the delegates had been secluded for two days.

“The participants had a constructive exchange of views in a positive atmosphere.”

He declined to comment on the agenda but said that observers from the United Nations and Europe were also present at the talks.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said on Tuesday that North Korea denuclearization was not on the table.

Last weekend, North Korean and Swedish foreign ministers ended three days of talks in preparation for a potential meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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

Reporting by Simon Johnson and Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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