UPDATE : 2018.11.16 FRI 09:33
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N.K.'s foreign minister arrives in Manila for ARF

North Korea's foreign minister arrived in the Philippines on Sunday to attend a regional security forum amid increasing pressure on Pyongyang's unwavering pursuit of missile and nuclear capabilities.

A North Korean delegation led by Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila at around 12:30 a.m. (local time). He flew to the city via Beijing.

Ri didn't say anything upon arriving at the airport. The North didn't ask for official media coverage of his delegation's arrival.

He was peppered with questions from reporters waiting at a hotel where he is to stay but also stayed mum there except for the word "Wait."

In response to a question asking whether he has any plan to meet South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, one of the officials accompanying him said that "there is no such plan."

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho walks into a hotel in Manila after stepping out of a car on Aug. 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

Ri is to join the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) scheduled for Monday, which is part of a string of meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

The ARF is a rare multilateral meeting to which all member states of the long-suspended six-party talks -- the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- send their top diplomats. A total of 27 countries including 10 ASEAN member states will be on hand at the meeting.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang, who arrived here on Saturday, expressed her willingness to meet Ri.

"If there is an opportunity that naturally occurs, we should talk," Kang said. "I would like to deliver our desire for the North to stop its provocations and positively respond to our recent special offers (for talks) aimed at establishing a peace regime (on the Korean Peninsula)."

The North has not responded to South Korea's earlier offers to hold two separate talks aimed at easing tensions along the border between the two Koreas and resuming reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The ARF and other ASEAN meetings come amid mounting pressure on the North following its continued missile provocations. Pyongyang conducted its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

The U.S. and China are reportedly discussing fresh sanctions on the North that could slash its exports by more than 30 percent. The U.N. Security Councul is expected to put it to a vote soon. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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