Two developments over the weekend show glimmers of progress toward a summit

The action over the weekend wasn’t enough to raise Korea Shock’s prospect for change meter, but the developments bear watching.

The most important is that a North Korean diplomat flew to Helsinki for Track 1.5 talks with former diplomats from the U.S. The name is diplomatic jargon. Track 1 talks are those that happen between official representatives of countries. Track 2 talks are those that happen between former officials who are still conversant with policies and have the ear and interest of officials. In this case, it’s called 1.5 because one country is sending an official while the other is not. South Korea also sent a group of civilian officials and former diplomats to the meeting.

Secondly, South Korean media reported that part of the discussion between Swedish and North Korean officials in Stockholm last week covered the prospective release of three Americans who are imprisoned in Pyongyang. That’s unsurprising because Sweden plays a protectorate role for Americans in North Korea. But if a deal came about, it would certainly ease the path for a Trump-Kim meeting. Some commentators have called for the prisoners’ release as a sign of goodwill. Of course, it may turn out that the prisoners will be released at the time of, or just after, a summit.