March 9, 2018 / 3:25 PM / 11 days ago

Swiss say ready to facilitate US-North Korea talks

ZURICH (Reuters) - Neutral Switzerland is ready to facilitate talks between North Korea and the United States, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Friday.

The offer came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for talks to resolve a standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons. It would be the first face-to-face encounter between the two countries’ leaders.

“Switzerland is in contact with all the parties involved,” the ministry said in a statement. “The good offices Switzerland can provide are well known. It is up to the parties involved to decide if, when and where the talks will be held.”

Then-President Doris Leuthard offered in September to mediate in the U.S.-North Korea dispute, noting that Switzerland had a long history of neutral and discreet diplomacy.

North Korea and the United States reached a framework agreement in Geneva in 1994 to freeze construction of the North’s nuclear reactors, but that accord unravelled in 2003.

Reporting by Michael Shields in Zurich and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, editing by Larry King

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