SEOUL, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will engage in a round of hectic bilateral and multilateral diplomacy in Singapore this week during a series of major forums on regional security and economic and cultural cooperation, her ministry said Monday.
Kang and her counterparts from more than two dozen countries, including North Korea, will huddle together at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Saturday. ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
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.
"Minister Kang plans to explain our government's efforts for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace," her ministry said in a press release.
She will also request support for Seoul's relevant policy from the 10 ASEAN countries and the international community, it added.
Another key task is to publicize the Moon Jae-in administration's campaign to improve South Korea's relations with the ASEAN bloc.
It's South Korea's No. 2 trade partner, with two-way trade volume totaling US$149.1 billion last year.
Kang is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with the top diplomats of some 15 countries on the sidelines.
The ARF is the only Asia-Pacific consultative group in which North Korea is a member.
It's expected to send Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to the meeting. Kang is seeking to arrange a separate meeting with him.
The minister is also likely to sit together with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo there. It remains unclear whether Ri and Pompeo will hold bilateral or trilateral talks involving Kang.
If the tripartite meeting is realized, it could provide a chance for discussions on declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
Pyongyang and Washington have traded a set of goodwill measures before and after their Singapore summit in June.
The North dismantled its main nuclear and missile test sites, which the U.S. wants to verify, and released three American nationals in detention. Last week, it also returned 55 sets of American war dead remains in the first implementation of the Singapore accord in writing.
The U.S. has suspended its key regular combined military drills with South Korea.
What's lacking is concrete denuclearization steps, which are the name of the game.
The ARF is hosted by the 10 Southeast Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Their dialogue partners are Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, India, the European Union, New Zealand, the U.S. and Russia.
The ARF is also joined by North Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
Source: Yonhap News Agency