Seoul to step up anti-N. Korea diplomacy in Singapore, Sri Lanka

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se arrives at Incheon International AIrport, Tuesday, to leave for Singapore and Sri Lanka. / Yonhap

Foreign Minister Yun leaves for Singapore, Sri Lanka on 3-day trip

By Yi Whan-woo

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se embarked on a three-day trip to Singapore and Sri Lanka, Tuesday, to discuss North Korea’s threats to regional security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

It said Yun met Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan first, Tuesday, before flying to Colombo for talks with Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Wednesday.

Yun is expected to make his last-ditch effort as a top South Korean diplomat to urge the international community to step up pressure on Pyongyang, according to senior foreign ministry officials here.

They said rising concerns over Pyongyang’s use of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction will be high on the agenda following the assassination of the North Korean ruler’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, Feb. 13.

“By doing so, South Korea may underscore North Korea’s repeated defiance of international norms, and the need to exclude Pyongyang from the United Nations,” an official said.

The official speculated that Yun’s three-day trip may help bolster South Korea’s alliance in the region against North Korea.

Yun is also scheduled to travel to Vietnam from Sunday to Monday after returning to Seoul temporarily for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Yun will meet several high-ranking Vietnamese officials, including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Foreign Minister Phim Binh Minh.

Meanwhile, National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin is to leave for the United States, Wednesday, Cheong Wa Dae said, Tuesday.

Kim will meet U.S. National Security Adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster during his two-day stay there and discuss North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats.

They are likely to reaffirm the two allies’ commitment to deploy a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea as scheduled regardless of the removal of Park Geun-hye from the presidency, Friday.

Kim and McMaster discussed the THAAD deployment and North Korea-related issues over the telephone, March 1.

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