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S. Korea's FM Yun to leave for Laos to attend ASEAN meetings

All News 09:18 July 23, 2016

VIENTIANE, July 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will leave for Laos late Saturday to join a series of regional meetings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), diplomatic sources said.

Yun will arrive in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on Sunday and start his meetings with the ASEAN counterparts in the days to come, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), according to the sources.

The ARF, which is scheduled for Tuesday, is the highlight of this year's gathering as it will provide a platform for 27 countries including 10 ASEAN members, the EU and even North Korea to discuss regional security issues.

The forum is a rare international occasion attended by all of the countries involved in the long-halted six-part talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea's repeated provocations by pursuing nuclear and missile programs and territorial spats in the South China Sea are expected to be high on the agenda.

On the sidelines, Yun will hold bilateral meetings with other participating countries.

Sources said that he is expected to hold talks with his counterparts from China, Japan, the United States and Myanmar during the meeting to be held from Sunday to Tuesday. Detailed schedules for the meetings and others have not been determined yet, they added.

The ASEAN meetings come amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula prompted by the North's recent missile tests in defiance of global warnings. Speculation is also mounting that Pyongyang is preparing a fifth nuclear test.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho will soon arrive in Laos to join the ARF, the sources said. When he will arrive and with whom he will have talks with have not been confirmed.

On Saturday, senior officials of major countries will hold preparatory talks to set the stage for the ASEAN meetings to be held among their top diplomats.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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