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Foreign Ministry confirms: North Korean delegation to meet in Helsinki

Details are scant on the secretive international meeting, but the Foreign Ministry says the talks are not concerned with top-level politics.

Choi Kang Il Pekingin lentokentällä 18. maaliskuuta.
Senior diplomat Choe Kang-il en route to Helsinki at Beijing airport on 18 March. Image: Reuters-TV

Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that a covert meeting between a North Korean diplomat and former South Korean and US officials is to take place somewhere in Helsinki in the near future.

The Ministry has not divulged the agenda or participants of the meeting, but says that the talks are not of a top-level political nature and that Finland is working only as an "academic" and "routine" facilitator for the meet. News outlet NKNews.org claims a main issue under discussion will be the conditions for denuclearisation.

The Finnish News Agency STT earlier on Sunday reported that the rendezvous would be taking place at the Japanese Embassy. The embassy soon denied having anything to do with any such meeting.

Diplomat arrives

News agency AFP reports that a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, Choe Kang-il, was seen boarding a plane for Finland at the Beijing airport.

AFP's information is based on multiple local media sources. The agency says that Choe will meet with the American ex-ambassador to South Korea, Kathleen Stephens.

Story continues after photo.

Choe Kang-il Pekingin lentokentällä 18. maaliskuuta.
Choe Kang-il. Image: Reuters-TV

The secretive meeting is to occur on the heels of a recently ended three-day round of security talks between the North Korean and Swedish Foreign Ministers in Stockholm. The newly developed situation adds to the diplomatic commotion surrounding a possible upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The plane that Choe Kang-il is believed to have boarded touched down at Helsinki-Vantaa airport around 2 pm local time on Sunday.

Edit: Changed title to reflect that the time and date of the meeting are still unknown. Added mention of NKNews.org item.

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