S. Korean FM leaves U.N. meeting without talks with N. Korean counterpart
NEW YORK/INCHEON Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha left New York on Saturday following the 73rd United Nations General Assembly without crossing paths with her North Korean counterpart.
Kang held talks with U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo and top diplomats from other nations during her stay here. But Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's foreign minister, declined Kang's earlier proposal for a meeting in New York.
South Korean government sources said Kang, who accompanied President Moon Jae-in to the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang earlier this month, spoke to Ri on that trip and suggested they meet during the U.N. General Assembly.
Sources said that North Korea may be reluctant to discuss denuclearization at the foreign ministerial level, though Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have discussed the topic in their three summit meetings in 2018.
Kang also failed to set up a meeting with Ri during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Singapore in August.
Returning to Seoul on Sunday, Kang said she was still positive about the fact that Ri met with his U.S. counterpart.
"Although the South-North Korean (talks) did not take place, it was a good sign that the (foreign) ministers of the North and the U.S. met," Kang told reporters after arriving at Incheon International Airport.
"All of these things, I think, have become a good stepping stone for future denuclearization negotiations."
Kang also recalled her attendance at a U.N. Security Council discussion hosted by Pompeo, saying "it was a good opportunity for the South Korean government to express to the international community its stance for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and peace building."
She also expressed her support for Ri's speech to the General Assembly.
Ri said in the Saturday speech that "Without any trust in the U.S., there will be no confidence in our national security, and under such circumstances, there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first," effectively calling for a change of the U.S.' on-going efforts to tighten sanctions on the North.
"In the path toward removing the long-running hostility, improving relations and bringing in denuclearization, every stage (of the process) could constitute trust-building measures," the foreign minister said, calling the North Korean demand for trust something "evidently needed."
Source: Yonhap News Agency