S. Korea’s top diplomat in Singapore for key regional forum

SINGAPORE, July 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha arrived in Singapore on Tuesday for a series of bilateral and multilateral talks on North Korea and other regional issues.

She's expected to hold talks with her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho.

Speaking to reporters upon arriving at an airport here, the minister said no schedule has been set yet.

Her weeklong visit to Singapore will focus on Seoul's ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Korean peace process, which includes declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

"As (the declaration) is our diplomatic task, (we) will push for it if there is an opportunity," Kang told Yonhap News Agency in Seoul just before departure. "(But) there isn't anything concrete yet that has been fixed."

She pointed out a significant change in security conditions from when she attended the previous ASEAN-led regional forums last year.

"In connection with the North Korea nuclear issue, there will likely be a lot of conversations on assessing progress over the past year," she added. "(I) will talk with major countries a little bit more concretely through important bilateral meetings on denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula that we push for."

The minister plans to have bilateral talks with her counterparts largely from Southeast Asian nations on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, She will attend an annual ASEAN-South Korea foreign ministers meeting and a Mekong-South Korea foreign ministers meeting.

The following day, Kang will take part in the ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) talks.

The ASEAN Plus Three forum also involves her Chinese and Japanese counterparts. The EAS is joined by the United States, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The highlight of this week's Singapore sessions will be the ARF, in which North Korea will participate.

There's a possibility of Kang holding trilateral talks with the North's minister and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo's department announced that he's planning to visit Singapore on Friday and Saturday.

If held, it would provide a boost to the denuclearization process and the Koreas' efforts to declare a formal end to the Korean War.

South Korea hopes to proclaim the war's termination by the year's end and start full-fledged discussions on lasting peace on the peninsula.

It views the U.N. General Assembly session to be held in New York in September as a good opportunity for a related ceremony.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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