South Korea’s new foreign minister has expressed readiness to meet and discuss inter-Korean issues with her North Korean counterpart on the sidelines of a security summit in the Philippines.
“If there is an opportunity that naturally occurs, we should talk,” Kang Kyung-wha told reporters as she landed in Manila on Saturday, according to the official Yonhap news agency.
Kang noted that any meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Hong-Yo would be an opportunity “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.”
The two senior officials are attending the regional summit, which is hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The meeting in Manila comes at a time when Pyongyang is facing intense international pressure to curb its nuclear weapons program.
Last month, Seoul proposed military talks with Pyongyang, but the North declined to respond.
The Manila event -- known as the ASEAN Regional Forum – comes as the United Nations Security Council will vote later in the day on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea for its numerous missile and nuclear tests.
North Korea, however, says its nuclear and missile development programs act as a deterrent to defend the nation in the face of the US and its regional allies' hegemony.
Seoul and Washington reached an agreement over the deployment of a controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in July last year, declaring that the objective is to protect South Korea against North Korea’s alleged missile threats.