Nuland: Swedes have yet to change status as protecting power in North Korea

Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said on Friday that Sweden has yet to change its diplomatic posture in North Korea as the protecting power of the U.S.

Nuland made the statement in response to a question about a recent North Korean diplomatic circular that said the country would no longer guarantee the safety of diplomats and embassies after Wednesday. Nuland said the U.S. did not expect Sweden to change its posture.

"We have been in touch with the Swedes, our protecting power in the D.P.R.K., because, obviously, if they were to change their status, we would have to inform American citizens and the D.P.R.K.," Nuland said. "At this point, we have no reason to believe that they will make any changes."

When asked to give a head count on the number of American citizens currently in North Korea, Nuland said an accurate number would be difficult to deliver, given that the majority of Americans in North Korea are non-government organization workers who enter and exit with humanitarian delegations.

Nuland also received a question about the date given in the diplomatic circular, if there was concern about any special significance attached to April 10 as the date when diplomatic protection would be lifted.

"I think we all know that this is an unpredictable regime and an unpredictable situation," Nuland said. "Again, our posture remains to be prudent, to take appropriate measures in the defense and deterrence sphere, both for ourselves and for our allies, but to continue to urge the D.P.R.K. to change course, because this is not going to end their isolation."