South Korea's foreign minister may encounter his North Korean counterpart during next month's Asia security forum, but it is unclear whether they will hold a formal meeting, a government official said Tuesday.
This year's ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) will be held in Myanmar's capital of Naypyidaw on Aug. 9-10 amid nagging threats from North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions and growing territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas.
North Korea's new foreign minister Ri Su-yong, who assumed his post in April, is widely expected to attend the ARF with speculation that he may visit Vietnam and Laos as well before going to Myanmar, according to diplomatic sources.
Noh Kwang-il, spokesman at Seoul's foreign ministry, told a regular press briefing that if Ri comes to the forum, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se may have a "diplomatic encounter" with him.
"But it has not be decided whether the two will hold a meeting," Noh said.
The foreign ministers of the Koreas last met in 2011 when they held talks on the sidelines of the ARF.
But in 2012 and 2013, they didn't have meetings during the security forum following a series of North Korea's provocations such as missile launches and a nuclear test in February last year.
Ri, a former ambassador to Switzerland, replaced Pak Ui-chun as the top diplomat of the communist country in a reshuffle of key officials. He is believed to have served as a guardian of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when Kim studied at an international school in Switzerland in the 1990s.