♦ Speculation Sweden could host US-N Korea summit
♦ Russia agrees to continue cooperation to uphold peace: South's official
China's President Xi Jinping offered encouragement for South Korea's initiative to nurture peaceful engagement with North Korea, and Russia also expressed support, the South Korean official leading diplomatic efforts said yesterday.
During the past week, National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong briefed officials in Beijing and Moscow following his dramatic success in arranging summits between the North Korean, South Korean and US leaders.
"Xi Jinping offered a Chinese phrase that says 'once hard ice melts, spring comes and flowers bloom' to describe the situation on the Korean peninsula and expressed his willingness to support the current situation," Chung told reporters on his return to Incheon International Airport.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the South Korean delegation led by Chung that he was open to addressing denuclearising with the United States, an offer that led to US President Trump agreeing to meet Kim for a summit expected to happen sometime in May.
There was growing speculation yesterday that Trump and Kim will meet Sweden, after its foreign ministry announced North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was arriving imminently for two days of talks with his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to hold a summit with the North's Kim by the end of April.
The South's preparation committee for the inter-Korean summit, led by Moon's chief of staff Im Jong-seok, will hold its first official meeting today, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a briefing.
The flurry of diplomatic activity comes after a year-long verbal spat between Kim Jong Un and Trump, with tensions exacerbated by multiple missile and nuclear tests by the North which has said it will forge on with its nuclear programme to protect its regime.
"China and Russia agreed to continue cooperation to uphold the peace that has been created, as well as the momentum for stability through close communication," Chung said.
North Korea has friendly ties with both Beijing and Moscow, and China is by far its biggest trading partner.