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South Korean foreign minister to seek meeting with North Korean counterpart in Singapore

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South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is seeking to arrange a separate meeting with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho when both are in Singapore this week for the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), reported Yonhap news agency on Monday.

[SEOUL] South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is seeking to arrange a separate meeting with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho when both are in Singapore this week for the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), reported Yonhap news agency on Monday.

The ARF taking place on Saturday will be the first time North Korea's foreign minister meets his counterparts from Asean and other partners since the warming of ties between the two Koreas as well as between Pyongyang and Washington this year.

The ARF is the only Asia-Pacific consultative group in which North Korea is a member.

It follows four other Asean-related sessions: an Asean-South Korea foreign ministers' meeting, a Mekong-South Korea foreign ministers' meeting Friday, and Asean Plus Three and East Asia Summit (EAS) talks the next day.

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North Korea is expected to send Mr Ri to the ARF, according to Yonhap.

He was part of the North Korean delegation when his leader Kim Jong Un travelled to Sngapore in June for his widely-watched summit with US President Donald Trump.

Yonhap reported on Monday that the South Korean foreign minister is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with the top diplomats of some 15 countries on the sidelines of the regional forums.

She is also likely to sit together with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who will be in Singapore for the East Asia Summit (EAS), which groups Asean and dialogue partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.

It remains unclear whether Mr Ri and Mr Pompeo will hold bilateral or trilateral talks involving Dr Kang.

If the tripartite meeting is realised, it could provide a chance for discussions on declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean foreign ministry said in a press release on Monday Dr Kang plans to explain at the upcoming forums South Korea's efforts for "the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace".

She will also request support for Seoul's relevant policy from the 10 ASEAN countries and the international community, the ministry added.

Another key task is to publicise the Moon Jae-in administration's campaign to improve South Korea's relations with the 10-member bloc.

Asean is South Korea's No 2 trade partner, with two-way trade volume totalling US$149.1 billion last year.

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