S. Korea eyes trilateral FM talks with U.S., Japan

South Korea is pursuing a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting with the United States and Japan to discuss North Korea's nuclear stalemate and other issues of mutual concern, a foreign ministry official said August 2.

Source from the Yonhap News Agency said Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is to attend foreign ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) early next week in Manila, the Philippines. They include the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a rare gathering attended by North Korea.

"On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, we are arranging a trilateral meeting among the foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency on customary condition of anonymity.

"We are pushing to hold such a meeting but the final timetable has yet to be confirmed. Finding a time that satisfies the three top diplomats with busy schedules is very hard," he added.

They didn't hold trilateral talks during last year's ASEAN meetings in Laos.

Seeking a three-way meeting is aimed at strengthening cooperation in dealing with the North in the wake of its recent missile provocations, he said.

On Friday night, the North test-fired what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, marking the second such provocation in a month.

Kang is expected to have bilateral talks with her counterparts from around a dozen countries on the ASEAN meetings' sidelines including Japan, the U.S. and China.

Keen attention is being placed on whether Kang will meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. Though the foreign ministry here has not confirmed the matter, it has hinted that the door for an encounter remains open.

Last year, there was a brief encounter between then Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Ri on the sidelines of the same ASEAN meetings held in Laos.

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