Switzerland

Exclusive: North And South Korea Together At Swiss Summit

Amid extraordinarily high tensions on the Korean peninsula, Switzerland managed to get diplomats from Pyongyang to sit down with counterparts from Seoul.

Glion, Switzerland
Glion, Switzerland
Simon Petite

GENEVA — Did the view on Lake Geneva favor a rapprochement between the two Koreas? Representatives of the two sworn enemies took part in a three-day closed door meeting organized by Switzerland in a hotel in Glion, near Montreux, Le Temps has learned. This comes amid extreme military tensions on the peninsula after North Korea's fifth nuclear test, carried out on Sept. 9.

Switzerland, together with the foundation Geneva Center for Security Policy, has been organizing a yearly roundtable on security in the North Pacific since 2012. Past meetings have included experts and diplomats from China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States. But according to a source close to these discussions, "North Korea has, for the first time, sent a delegation."

Pyongyang's participation is seen as a small but important sign of openness from the totalitarian regime of North Korea, which nonetheless continues to develop its nuclear arsenal despite the reinforcement of international sanctions.

The Geneva Center for Security Policy has declined to give more details on the meeting's content. Exchanges lasted for three days, but only the final day (Wednesday) was dedicated to the Korean Peninsula. The program says conversations were focused on "assessing the risks of confrontation." Because, it said, the risks of a new war in Korea, after the 1950-1953 conflict that ended in the peninsula's division into two countries, "have never been higher."

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