North Korean diplomat Choe Kang-Il at Beijing Capital airport en route to Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter

CNN is reporting that representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the US are getting ready to meet in Finland for talks on denuclearization.

Finnish Foreign Ministry official Kimmo Lahdevirta told the US news network that the talks will include American representatives who aren’t government officials.

The meeting is being held in a neutral third country because the US doesn’t have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry told CNN that former officials and private experts from South Korea would also be at the “second-tier” talks on denuclearization.

Lahdevirta characterized the diplomatic event as a “track 1.5 academic meeting … involving representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the US.”

So-called “track 1.5 talks” are designed to bring together a mixture of current government officials and nongovernmental experts but don’t qualify as top-level diplomatic exchanges.

Lahdevirta said no current US government officials will be participating. He couldn’t say who was coming from North or South Korea.

Obstacles to summit?
AFP reported separately on Monday that a senior North Korean diplomat has arrived in Finland as part of the expected talks with US and South Korean officials. Choe Kang-il, deputy director for North American affairs at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, will reportedly meet retired US diplomat Kathleen Stephens.

AFP says they will discuss the planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May.

The meeting is said to follow three days of talks between North Korean and Swedish officials in Stockholm. The effort reportedly fell short of clearing the way for a Trump-Kim summit.