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Special envoy from Sweden travels to North Korea

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Swedish Special Envoy Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt (C-L) talks to Kim Yong-nam, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of North Korea, in Pyongyang, on July 1, 2019. (Photo by KCNA)

A special representative of the Swedish government has arrived in North Korea on a visit that is assumed to be related to the case of an Australian student who has been missing in the country for several days.

The Swedish envoy, Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt, arrived in North Korea’s capital on Monday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Reuters reported.

Video provided by the agency showed the Swedish delegation, led by Harstedt, being greeted by a North Korean Foreign Ministry official at the Pyongyang International Airport.

The report did not specify the purpose and duration of the Swedish delegation’s visit.

South Korean media said, however, that the visit was likely related to the Australian student, Alek Sigley, who, according to some media reports, has been detained in Pyongyang.

Reports said last week that Sigley, a Pyongyang University student and tour guide, was arrested by North Korean authorities sometime around June 24.

Australia has diplomatic ties with North Korea but does not have an embassy there, so it relies on the Swedish government, which offers limited consular help to Canberra.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern about the fate of Sigley, describing his disappearance as “very troubling.”

“My prayers this morning are for Alek Sigley and his family,” he said while attending a service at St. Christopher’s Catholic Cathedral in Canberra on Tuesday.

“This is a very troubling and concerning situation and we will be continuing to use every effort that we have to locate him and hopefully to be able to bring him home safely,” he said.

Sigley’s disappearance came as Morrison was attending the Group of 20 summit in Japan last week. He was offered help to find Sigley by several world leaders at the event.

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