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Minister to visit New York on N.K., Ban

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan will make a congratulatory speech on the reelection of Ban Ki-moon as the U.N. secretary-general in New York on Tuesday, after which he will hold talks with U.S. officials over North Korea’s nuclear standoff, the Seoul government said.

Kim left for New York on Monday, four days ahead of his scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to personally express support for the South Korean diplomat’s reelection as the head of the world body, the Foreign Ministry here said.

Ban, 67, is sure to serve another five years with the 192-member U.N. General Assembly to hold a definitive vote on Tuesday. The former South Korean foreign minister was approved by the Security Council over the weekend and there are no other candidates.

During his stay in New York, Foreign Minister Kim will also hold a congratulatory reception for foreign diplomats in the U.N. and meet with former U.S. ambassador to Seoul Thomas Hubbard, American football champion Hines Ward and others, according to the ministry.

Kim will then fly to Washington to discuss ways of resuming the stalled multinational talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and hold a joint press conference with Clinton.

Seoul has shown signs of easing its attitude toward Pyongyang apparently noting the need to resume the suspended nuclear talks at an early date.

The six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been suspended since the end of 2008 after Pyongyang walked from the negotiation table, claiming other dialogue partners had failed to keep their promises.

Backed by its traditional ally China, the North has been making increasing efforts to rejoin the talks, apparently desperate to secure food assistance to feed its people.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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