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N. Korea, China FMs set to hold talks in Myanmar

All Headlines 17:46 August 10, 2014

By Kim Soo-yeon

NAYPYITAW, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new foreign minister plans to hold a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Myanmar on Sunday on the sidelines of Asia's biggest security forum amid Pyongyang's threats of another nuclear test and missile launches, officials said.

Ri Su-yong, who became the North's top diplomat in April, is visiting the capital of Myanmar to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), slated for later in the day.

Ri and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks after the ARF's plenary session ends, according to a copy of the schedule for bilateral meetings released by the forum's secretariat.

If held, it would be the first meeting of the top diplomats from Pyongyang and Beijing since Ri became the foreign minister.

Relations between North Korea and China have been seemingly somewhat strained since the North conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare trip to Seoul in early July to hold a summit with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye. Park and Xi reaffirmed "firm" opposition to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

It marked the first time that a sitting Chinese President visited South Korea before traveling to North Korea, China's long-time ally. Xi's move was widely seen as demonstrating China's disapproval of the North's nuclear test last year, observers said.

"There have been normal exchanges between China and North Korea in terms of every aspect," Wang told a group of reporters on Friday.

Ri held one-on-one meetings with his Cambodian and Mongolian counterparts on Saturday with the plan to have talks with the foreign minister from Malaysia late Sunday.

Before arriving in Myanmar, Ri visited Laos and Vietnam and he is expected to visit Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei after the ARF in Myanmar.

It is unclear whether Ri will have informal talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida over their recent deal to resolve the issue of more than a dozen Japanese nationals allegedly kidnapped by North Korea decades ago.

In May, North Korea agreed to re-investigate the issue. In return, Japan has agreed to lift some of its own sanctions taken against North Korea in tandem with U.N. sanctions.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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