N.Korean FM to Tour Southeast Asia

Ri Su-yong Ri Su-yong

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong is going on a tour of ASEAN member countries, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday.

A North Korean "government delegation led by Ri left Pyongyang Saturday to visit Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia and Singapore," the KCNA added.

Ri will go to fellow communist countries Laos and Vietnam first and then attend the ASEAN Regional Forum in Burma on Aug. 10, followed by visits to Indonesia and Singapore.

Ri hopes to strengthen relations to break away from the diplomatic isolation caused by international sanctions.

Ri will bump into South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during the ASEAN Regional Forum. At the previous ARF in Brunei in July last year, then North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun just shook hands with Yun, but they did not speak.

Ri is also expected to meet with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida and talk about a reinvestigation of the North’s bizarre abduction campaign of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s.

Ri could also meet a U.S. official at the forum. Recently, the North expressed hopes of dialogue with the U.S and released interviews with two American tourists detained by the regime for proselytizing.

The need to free them could persuade the U.S. to agree to a meeting.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 04, 2014 12:18 KST