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British foreign minister hopes Iran deal will help resolve N.K. nuclear issue

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressed hope Monday that the recent nuclear deal involving Iran and six world powers will have a positive impact on stalled denuclearization talks with North Korea.

  Hammond, who arrived in Seoul earlier in the day, told reporters after a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se that the situation in North Korea was one of their topics of discussion.

  "Britain remains crucially interested in peace and stability in Asia and the situation with DPRK," Hammond said, using the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

  "The disputes in the East China and South China Seas concern us because of the impact on that stability," he added, referring to the territorial disputes between China and some Southeast Asian nations.

  "So we explored some of those areas, looked how we can work together to try to resolve them and to enhance peace and security in the region."

  The two ministers held their second Strategic Dialogue that covered a wide range of issues, including bilateral trade and collaboration in Africa following their joint work during the Ebola crisis, the secretary said, noting that South Korea was the only non-Western nation to send medical staff to the virus-hit regions.

   On North Korea, Hammond expressed hope that stalled international negotiations aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program would receive a boost from last month's nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 -- the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

   "We of course do hope that the success of the P5+1 engagement with Iran and the agreement that was reached in Vienna will have some relevance to attempts to resolve the situation with DPRK," he said. "And I hope that the lessons of the successful Vienna talks might in due course be of value to finding a resolution of the problems with DPRK."

   During his two-day visit, Hammond is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Park Geun-hye, meet with other South Korean ministers, visit the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas and pay his respects to the British soldiers who lost their lives during the 1950-53 Korean War at the Gloster Hill Memorial Park.(Yonhap)