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(2nd LD) N.K. foreign minister arrives in Laos for regional security meeting

All News 17:30 July 24, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more info from 4th para)
By Koh Byung-joon

VIENTIANE, July 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foreign minister arrived in Laos on Sunday to attend a regional security forum likely to be dominated by Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Ri Yong-ho and a delegation of North Korean officials arrived at Wattay International Airport at around 2:45 p.m., a main gateway to the Laotian capital of Vientiane where regional meetings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off earlier in the day.

He didn't make any comments to a group of reporters waiting for his arrival. But when asked if he has any plans to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines, he nodded.

Whether North Korea is to hold any talks with China has drawn attention amid the North's deepening isolation from the international community following its repeated missile tests. It drew global condemnation after carrying out its fourth nuclear test earlier this year.

Ri and Wang were confirmed to have taken the same flight from China to Laos. Both are staying in the same hotel located in central Vientiane.

The top diplomats from the two allies will join the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the largest regional security meeting that will take place on Tuesday, the last day of this annual event.

The ARF is a rare international gathering attended by all member countries of the long-halted six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear program.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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