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Senior N.K. official meets Swedish envoy amid reports of missing Australian student

North Korea 18:04 July 03, 2019

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- A senior North Korean official met with a special envoy from the Swedish government on Wednesday, the North's state media said, amid speculation over possible discussions about an Australian student who has been missing in the North for the past week.

Ri Su-yong, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's Central Committee "met and had a talk with Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, without giving further details.

On Tuesday, the Swedish envoy and his team also met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and discussed the "development of bilateral relations and the present situation on the Korean peninsula," according to the KCNA. The team arrived in Pyongyang on Monday.

Harstedt's visit came amid media reports that Alek Sigley, a 29-year-old Australian student in Pyongyang, has not been in contact with his family or friends since last week.

The Australian government, which does not have an embassy in Pyongyang, is reportedly working with the Swedish government on the matter.

Earlier in the day, Radio Free Asia quoted a Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson as saying that "the visit is in line with Sweden's long-term engagement for a peaceful resolution of the situation on the Korean peninsula and the special envoy's regular contacts with North Korea."

The spokesperson declined to comment on the missing Australian student, the report said.


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