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NoKor official in Manila for Asian security meet

North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Hui-Choi led a delegation that arrived here yesterday to discuss with their Filipino counterparts preparations for the participation of Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho, shown in the photo, in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). AP/Mark Lennihan, File

MANILA, Philippines -  North Korea’s top diplomat will be attending an annual Asian security conference next week in Manila where concern over its nuclear weapons program is expected to be high on the agenda.

North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Hui-Choi led a delegation that arrived here yesterday to discuss with their Filipino counterparts preparations for the participation of Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The 27-member ARF’s annual meetings are also attended by the foreign ministers of South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, countries involved in the so-called six-party talks aimed at taming the North’s nuclear ambition.

The talks were last held in April 2009, when North Korea pulled out to protest international condemnation of its long-range rocket launch.

In a press conference, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang had been attending ARF and thus its participation in the ARF meeting here is expected.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said North Korea’s vice foreign minister met with Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo yesterday.

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The ARF was established in 1994. It comprises 27 members: the 10 ASEAN member-states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), the 10 ASEAN dialogue partners (Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States), one ASEAN observer (Papua New Guinea), as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The ARF is a key forum for security dialogue in Asia, complementing the various bilateral alliances and dialogues. It provides a setting in which members can discuss current regional security issues and develop cooperative measures to enhance peace and security in the region. – With AP

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