Asia-Pacific

Pyongyang talks may be over Perth student

Australian student Alek Sigley has gone missing in North Korea. (AAP)

A Swedish envoy has met a senior North Korean official in Pyongyang amid speculation it could be over missing Australian student Alek Sigley.

A senior North Korean official has met with a special envoy from the Swedish government in Pyongyang amid speculations the visit may be related to the disappearance of Australian student Alek Sigley.

The Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea Ri Su-yong met and spoke with Special Envoy Kent Rolf Magnus Harstedt, official North Korean news agency KCNA reported without providing details.

The meeting came a day after Harstedt met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, with whom he discussed the development of bilateral relations and the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, KCNA said.

Harstedt and his team arrived in Pyongyang on Monday and were received by Kim Yong-nam who until April served as North Korea's honorary president, although KCNA has not reported on the duration or purpose of the visit.

The visit comes at a time of intense speculation about the alleged arrest in North Korea of the 28-year-old Sigley, a masters student in Korean literature at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, who has been missing since last week and whose whereabouts Canberra has failed to verify.

Australia and North Korea maintain diplomatic relations but do not have embassies in their respective territories, giving rise to speculations that Canberra could be investigating this matter with Sweden, which has a diplomatic delegation in Pyongyang.

Sigley, from Perth, had been active on Twitter where he has documented his life as a student in Pyongyang since late 2018.

His last tweet, dated June 24, was about the famous Ryugyong Hotel, a gigantic unfinished luxury complex that began to be constructed in Pyongyang in the late 1980s and of which Sigley took a few photos from the outside.

Sigley's family became concerned on June 27 after they were unable to contact him on Whatsapp, as was customary.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that Sigley's disappearance was a "troubling and concerning situation and we are using every effort to locate him and hopefully bring him home safely."

If confirmed, this would be the first known arrest of a foreigner in North Korea since that of American student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years? hard labour for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster during his visit to Pyongyang in December 2015.

A year and a half later, Warmbier was repatriated to the United States in a coma and died six days later on June 19, 2017.

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