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(LEAD) N. Korean FM arrives in Malaysia for regional talks

2015/08/04 18:49

(ATTN: UPDATES with North Korean foreign minister's arrival in paras 1-4, 7-10; CHANGES headline)

By Lee Haye-ah

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong arrived in Malaysia Tuesday for regional security talks seen as a rare opportunity for active diplomatic engagement with the reclusive communist state.

Ri arrived with a delegation of officials at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, two days ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum involving all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 16 other countries and the EU.

He did not respond to reporters questions and left in a hurry.

Among the ARF participants are all the members of the six-party talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program, setting the stage for various bilateral and multilateral meetings on the issue.

The six-party talks have not been held since late 2008, but the forum has drawn attention again in light of a recent nuclear deal between Iran and a coalition of the U.S. and other world powers.

Keen attention is being paid to whether the two Koreas will hold foreign ministerial talks on the forum's sidelines due to the ministers' partly overlapping schedules, including a gala dinner on Wednesday and the ARF meeting on Thursday.

South Korea is expected to focus its diplomatic efforts on drumming up international support to thwart North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Meanwhile, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said Ri and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are scheduled to meet later Tuesday to discuss their "bilateral agenda and peace settlement in the Korean peninsula."

   Japan's Kyodo news agency reported earlier that talks are under way to arrange a meeting between Ri and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday.

Through the talks, Tokyo hopes to press Pyongyang to speed up its investigation into the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by the North decades ago, Kyodo said.

From Malaysia, Ri will make official visits to Thailand and Brunei, the North's state media said Monday.

hague@yna.co.kr

(END)

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