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North Korean foreign minister to meet with Russia's Lavrov in Malaysia

Sergei Lavrov and Ri Su Yong are to meet in Malaysia to discuss bilateral relations and the issues of the Korean peninsula.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean foreign minister to meet with Russia's Lavrov in Malaysia
North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong met with India's Sushma Swaraj in April to discuss food aid. Ri is to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, this week. File Photo courtesy of Ministry of External Affairs India/Flickr

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong is to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, during the ASEAN Regional Forum but the prospects of meeting with Seoul's Yun Byung-se are dim, according to reports.

Ri arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday for an annual meeting of foreign ministers at the forum, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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But the North Korean official declined to answer questions from South Korean reporters and did not confirm whether he plans to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

South Korea press reported Ri wasted no time leaving the Kuala Lumpur airport from the fifth floor of the terminal, quickly jumping into a car that was waiting for him and his delegation.

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Seoul has said it is open to dialogue with Pyongyang, but frayed ties between North and South make it unlikely any meaningful exchange could take place during the 22nd ASEAN Regional Forum on Thursday.

Ri is to meet instead with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to a spokesman for the Russian delegation.

Russian news agency TASS reported Lavrov and Ri are to meet in Malaysia to discuss bilateral relations and the issues of the Korean peninsula.

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Russia recently has renewed its close ties to North Korea. Yonhap reported Moscow has taken more measures to defend North Korea's nuclear program and Pyongyang's position on the six-party talks.

North Korea has indicated through diplomatic channels in Moscow and Beijing that it has no interest in pursuing an Iran-style nuclear deal and blamed "hostile U.S. policy" for tensions on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea press reported Ri might also meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

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