North Korea and USA are bitter enemies. But even enemies need to speak to each other from time to time. And what better place to do it than in a magnificient Swedish castle from the 17th century?
In June, Kim Jong-Un and Barack Obama sent their representatives for a secret talk held at Steninge Palace in Sigtuna, about one hour from Stockholm.
The meeting was arranged by Sipri, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and has been kept secret for the media, according to Swedish daily Dagens Industri.
According to reports in South Korean media, North Korea sent Han Song-ryol director-general of the department of U.S. affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, while USA sent Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former ambassador to, among others, Russia, Israel and the United Nations.
The meeting place is not as unlikely as it first might seem.
USA and North Korea have no formal diplomatic relations, but in consular matters Sweden acts as the the protecting power of United States interests in North Korea.
Sweden has an embassy in the North Korean capital Pyongyang and have held talks between the Hermit kingdom and other countries before.
In 2014 Sweden hosted envoys from Japan and North Korea for discussions on Japanese nationals having been kidnapped.
Interior shot of Steninge Palace
Dagens Industri spoke to Per Taube, owner of Steninge Palace. He confirms the meeting between North Korea and USA in June, but says that he was only involved in hosting the first and last dinner.
“It was an inofficial meeting on a high level between North Korea and USA. They were pleased afterwards, but these things take time”, he said to Dagens Industri.
Steninge Palace is located one hour to the north of the Swedish capital
Winter view of Steninge Palace
There have been no reports as to which topics the delegations discussed. The relations between the countries have been colored by the fact that North Korea is repeatedly threatening to attack the United States with nuclear strikes.
Sven-Olof Persson, director of Sipri, decline to comment the meeting, stating that doing so would hurt the organization’s credibility.
Steninge Palace is a Baroque palace built in the last decade of the 17th century and was completed in 1705. Per Taube bought the castle in 2008 for approximately 15 million dollars. The castle welcomes more than 200 000 visitors yearly and it has been described as one of the most elegant examples of Baroque mansions in Sweden.
This is what Steninge Palace looked like in 1694
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