The foreign ministers of North Korea and Singapore held talks Thursday ahead of the high-profile summit next week between Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in the wealthy city-state.
Kyodo News confirmed that Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who arrived in North Korea earlier in the day, met with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho in Pyongyang.
During the two-day visit, Balakrishnan is also scheduled to meet with North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, according to Singapore’s Foreign Ministry.
Balakrishnan’s visit at the invitation of Ri follows his recent trip to Washington, where he held talks with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo, and comes as Singapore is stepping up preparations for the first-ever summit between sitting North Korean and U.S. leaders.
Singapore has maintained diplomatic relations with North Korea for more than 40 years. But in November, at a time when North Korea still clung to its defiant pursuit of nuclear and missile capabilities, the city-state suspended trade ties with Pyongyang in line with toughened sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council.
Singapore has been serving as a broker between North Korea and the United States, which have no diplomatic ties.
( Singaporean FM Vivian Balakrishnan, left, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho, right)