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(LEAD) Kerry has no plans to meet N.K. foreign minister on ARF's sidelines: State Department

All News 05:56 July 20, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with Kerry having no plan to meet with N. Korean FM; ADDS photo)

WASHINGTON, July 19 (Yonhap) --- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has no plans to meet one-on-one with his counterpart from North Korea on the sidelines of a regional security conference next week in Laos, a State artment official said Tuesday.

Kerry is scheduled to visit the Lao capital of Vientiane from July 25-26 for a series of annual meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Asia's biggest annual security gathering, known as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), according the department.

ARF is one of the rare international gatherings that North Korea has regularly attended and brings together the top diplomats from 27 countries, including all countries involved in the six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear program.

The North's new foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, is expected to attend next week's meeting.

"There are no plans for a meeting," State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams told Yonhap News Agency in response to a question about whether Kerry has any plans to meet with his North Korean counterpart.

"We have long made clear -- in close consultation with our partners and allies -- that we remain open to dialogue with the DPRK, with the aim of returning to credible and authentic negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from provocations," Adams said.

While in Laos, Kerry "will discuss the region's security architecture and shared transnational challenges including maritime security, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea," the department said in a release.


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