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Preparations under way to arrange China-N. Korea bilateral talks: source

All News 17:26 July 24, 2016

VIENTIANE, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Preparations are in motion to arrange bilateral talks between China and North Korea, a source said Sunday, raising the prospects that their top diplomats will meet for the first time in two years at a regional security gathering under way here.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho reportedly took the same flight to make a trip to this Laotian capital of Vientiane on Sunday. After getting off, they were headed to the same hotel where their delegations are to stay until the ASEAN meetings end.

"Preparations are under way for bilateral talks between the two," an anonymous Chinese source close to government affairs told Yonhap News Agency. But he said that nothing has been set yet including whether and when it happens.

The prospect for China-North Korea talks have been raised as Pyongyang is expected to ramp up its diplomacy with its closest ally ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum where its nuclear and missile development might be high on the agenda.

It would also come amid the somewhat stained ties between South Korea and China over Seoul's joint decision with the United States to deploy an advanced missile defense system on the peninsula. Beijing has objected to the plan, saying that it could hurt its strategic security interests.

When Ri departed Pyongyang for a trip to Laos, he was seen off by China's Ambassador to North Korea Li Jinjun, which some say could be a sign that the two allies could have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the forum.

South Korea is also in negotiations with China to arrange a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ARF, informed sources said.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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