Swiss say no takers yet on offer to defuse Koreas

Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland says it is standing by as a potential negotiator to defuse the tensions between the United States and North Korea but so far no one has taken it up on the offer.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Carole Waelti told The Associated Press in an emailed statement Wednesday that Switzerland is willing to help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and has offered to host meetings between the parties. It has been in contact with diplomats from the North Korean and South Korean embassies in Switzerland.

"Switzerland is willing to contribute to the relaxation of the Korean Peninsula and is always willing to help find a solution," she said. "The parties have so far made no such request."

For months, North Korea has appeared to be preparing for a showdown with the United States and South Korea, its wartime foes.

Switzerland helps monitor the demilitarized zone that was created after the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically at war.

The neutral Alpine nation, home to the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva, regularly hosts peace talks and mediates international conflicts. It also serves as the diplomatic go-between for the U.S. and Iran.

North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is reported to have attended school in Switzerland, which also has a humanitarian aid office in North Korea.