S Korean Minister open to meeting N Korea counterpart
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