North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who took over in December 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, is said to have spent several years in Switzerland being educated under a pseudonym.
A Reuter’s report from Zurich records an offer by Switzerland to mediate with North Korea as tension rises on the Korean peninsula. As yet no response has been received.
Neutral Switzerland has been involved in more than 15 sets of peace negotiations in the past seven years, including in Sudan, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Nepal. More recently it has hosted mediation between Russia and Ukraine and between the United States and Iran and Cuba.
Five Swiss and five Swedish officers monitor the demilitarised zone between the North and South. Urs Gerber, the Swiss head of the operation, said not much has changed in recent months. “We are just monitoring the situation more intensively.”
Swedish Maj. Gen. Christer Lidstrom, left, and Swiss Maj. Gen. Jean-Jacques Joss, of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, stand on the South Korea side of the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone. They lead five-member delegations from their countries in compliance with the armistice that ended Korean War hostilities in 1953. Read more here.
Former Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who was the first foreign government official to cross the demarcation line separating North and South Korea in 2003, said Pyongyang’s wishes had not changed much since then. She told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper:
“For North Korea, symbols are very important. What the North Koreans still want is recognition and security guarantees from the United States.”