UN officials in Sweden for talks on North Korea, Syria

UN officials in Sweden for talks on North Korea, Syria
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, left and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hold a joint press conference ahead of a UN Security Council meeting at Backakra, outside Ystad, southern Sweden, Saturday, April 21, 2018. ( Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

BACKAKRA, Sweden (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general and Security Council officials were meeting in Sweden on Saturday to discuss a range of international issues, including developments on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria.

The annual informal working meeting is being hosted by the Swedish government on the farm estate of Dag Hammarskjold in Backakra in southern Sweden.

Hammarskjold was a Swedish diplomat who served as the second U.N. secretary-general until he died in a plane crash in September 1961.

Talking to reporters before the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefly commented on North Korea’s announcement that it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests.

He said he was optimistic about North Korea’s decision, saying that “the path is open for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said diplomats were “still deadlocked” over the issue of Syria.

The meeting comes just a week after France, Britain and the U.S. launched joint airstrikes at suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma.

Haley said she and the other diplomats welcomed a chance to get a break from normal routine.

“Retreats like this are very important for us to get away from New York sometimes and discuss these things in a way that we can really try and find a solution,” she said.

Guterres is set to stay in Sweden until Monday.