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U.N. officials in Sweden for talks on North Korea, Syria

UPDATED: Sat., April 21, 2018, 8:17 a.m.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, talks to journalists as the U.N. Security Council holds a meeting at Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on Saturday April 21, 2018. (Johan Nilsson / Associated Press)
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, talks to journalists as the U.N. Security Council holds a meeting at Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on Saturday April 21, 2018. (Johan Nilsson / Associated Press)

BACKAKRA, Sweden – The U.N. secretary-general and ambassadors from countries on the Security Council assembled Saturday in Sweden for an informal meeting on weighty international issues, including developments on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria.

The annual joint brainstorming session for the United Nations’ movers and shakers is being hosted this year by the Swedish government on the picturesque farm estate of Dag Hammarskjold in southern Sweden.

Hammarskjold was a Swedish diplomat who served as the second U.N. secretary-general before he died in a plane crash in September 1961.

Talking to reporters before the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefly commented on North Korea’s announcement that it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests.

He said he was optimistic about North Korea’s decision, saying that “the path is open for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Pyongyang’s statement “clearly shows that when you have a unity within the (U.N.) Security Council, you can achieve things.”

However, Lofven remained cautious about the situation.

“To speculate what would happen is perhaps a bit too dangerous, but it does look positive, yes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said diplomats were “still deadlocked” over Syria.

The meeting comes just a week after France, Britain and the U.S. launched joint airstrikes at suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma.

Haley said she and the other diplomats welcomed the working meeting as a chance to get a break from their normal routines

“Retreats like this are very important for us to get away from New York sometimes and discuss these things in a way that we can really try and find a solution,” she said.

Guterres is set to stay in Sweden until Monday.


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