S Korean Min­is­ter open to meet­ing N Korea coun­ter­part

Muscat Daily - - WORLD - AFP

Manila, Philip­pines - South Korea’s For­eign Min­is­ter said on Satur­day she was open to rare dis­cus­sions with her North Korean coun­ter­part at a se­cu­rity fo­rum in the Philip­pines in a bid to rein in Py­ongyang’s nu­clear weapons pro­gramme.

The diplo­matic olive branch came as the iso­lated regime faces in­creas­ing global pres­sure fol­low­ing its sec­ond in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test on July 28, with the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil set to vote this week­end on new sanc­tions.

“If there is an op­por­tu­nity that nat­u­rally oc­curs, we should talk,” Kang Kyung-Wha told re­porters as she landed in Manila on Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency.

North Korea’s top diplo­mat, Ri Hong-Yo, is also at­tend­ing the re­gional sum­mit, which is hosted by the ten mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN).

Kang, South Korea’s first woman for­eign min­is­ter, said any meet­ing with Ri would be an op­por­tu­nity ‘to de­liver our de­sire for the North to stop its provo­ca­tions and pos­i­tively re­spond to our re­cent special of­fers (for talks) aimed at es­tab­lish­ing a peace regime’.

Seoul last month pro­posed mil­i­tary talks with Py­ongyang but the North re­fused to re­spond. Had they gone ahead, they would have been the first of­fi­cial in­ter-Korean talks since 2015.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has de­fied in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to ac­cel­er­ate his coun­try’s nu­clear weapons ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and boasted af­ter the sec­ond in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test that he could strike any tar­get in the United States.

In re­sponse, Washing­ton drafted the planned UN res­o­lu­tion to toughen sanc­tions against Py­ongyang.

The United States also said it hoped to build uni­fied pres­sure on the North at the Manila event, known as the ASEAN Re­gional Fo­rum (ARF), which US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son is at­tend­ing.

South Korea’s For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-Wha

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