UPDATE : 2019.10.13 SUN 11:28
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N.K. top nuke envoy arrives in Beijing possibly on way to talks with U.S.
Jo Chol-su, head of the North Korean foreign ministry's North American affairs department, arrives at Beijing International Capital Airport from Pyongyang on Oct. 3, 2019, for a possible trip to Sweden ahead of the envisioned denuclearization talks with the United States. (Yonhap)

North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a possible trip to Sweden for the envisioned denuclearization talks with the United States.

The four-member North Korean delegation led by Kim Myong-gil was spotted at Beijing International Capital Airport upon arrival from Pyongyang on an Air Koryo flight.

The officials are forecast to leave for the Swedish capital of Stockholm later in the day, as they were confirmed to have reserved Air China tickets bound for the city.

On Tuesday, the North's First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that Pyongyang and Washington agreed to resume talks Saturday following the two sides' "preliminary contact" Friday. She did not mention the venue for the talks.

This file photo, taken Feb. 26, 2019, shows then North Korean Ambassador to Vietnam Kim Myong-gil (top) accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a visit to the North Korean Embassy in Hanoi. The North Korean leader was in the city to hold his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. The diplomat, well-versed in U.S. affairs, is known to have been picked as the counterpart of U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun. (Yonhap)

There has been speculation that the meeting could take place in Sweden, where the envoys of the two Koreas and the U.S. held talks in January ahead of the Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam. Pyongyang and the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom are also being mentioned as possible venues.

Among the delegation is Jo Chol-su, the new head of the North Korean foreign ministry's North American affairs department.

Jo's predecessor, Kwon Jong-gun, was also among the North Korean negotiating team, with a source saying that he is expected to serve as a vice chief.

Kwon has not appeared in the North Korean media since mid-August when he issued a statement slamming the combined military exercise between Seoul and Washington. He previously had issued several statements with harsh words against South Korea and the U.S.

But Choe does not appear to be part of the delegation, as she was not spotted at the airport nor is she on the list of passengers on Thursday's flight to Stockholm.

After the talks, the North Korean delegation is expected to return home via Beijing on Monday.

Kim, former North Korean ambassador to Vietnam, will represent North Korea in the negotiations, as the counterpart of U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Biegun.

The envisioned talks will mark the first nuclear negotiations between the two sides since February's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un broke down without a deal due to gaps over Pyongyang's denuclearization measures and Washington's sanctions relief. (Yonhap)

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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