Swedish prime minister set for first Korea trip

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Swedish prime minister set for first Korea trip

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven will visit Korea next week at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in, the Blue House said Wednesday.

According to presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-jung, Lofven will visit Korea from Dec. 18 to 20. A summit between the two leaders will take place in the afternoon on Dec. 18, and a dinner will follow.

“Lofven’s visit is to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korea-Sweden diplomatic establishment,” Ko said. “It is also his first visit to Korea since he took office in 2014. It is also the first visit by a Swedish prime minister in 15 years.”

Lofven, who is set to be accompanied by an 80-member economic delegation, will attend the Korea-Sweden Business Forum along with Moon. He will also attend an event to commemorate the Swedish veterans who had fought in the Korean War and visit the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.

At the upcoming summit, Moon and Lofven will discuss economic cooperation plans to expand trade and investment between Korea and Sweden. Special attention will also be paid to cooperative measures in new industries such as science, technology, bio, health and hydrogen energy in particular, Ko said. They will also discuss other issues related to building a more inclusive society, such as gender equality and welfare, according to Ko.

“Sweden had dispatched a medical support unit during the Korean War,” Ko said. “As a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, Sweden had contributed to peace of the Korean Peninsula after the truce. Moon will praise Sweden’s special contribution to establish peace and stimulate dialogue on the Korean Peninsula and ask for the country’s continuous support.”

According to the Blue House, Sweden sent a 160-member medical unit to Busan from September 1950 until July 1953. In 1958, the country also opened a medical center in Korea with Norway and Denmark. The institution later became today’s National Medical Center.

In recent years, Sweden has also played a role in engaging North Korea in dialogue. In 2017, the country named Kent Harstedt, a lawmaker, as its special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs. Stockholm was the venue for negotiations between the two Koreas and the United States in January this year and working-level negotiations between North Korea and the United States in October.

The Blue House said the two countries’ cooperation will be expanded with the Swedish leader’s visit to Korea, following Moon’s visit to Sweden in June. “We believe strategic communication with Sweden, which has made a constructive contribution for peace on the Korean Peninsula, will be further strengthened,” Ko said.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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