Kang to step up diplomatic efforts at ARF

By Ock Hyun-ju
  • Published : Jul 30, 2018 - 17:51
  • Updated : Jul 30, 2018 - 17:51

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is set to fly to Singapore on Tuesday to attend a series of major forums on regional security in Singapore, amid a flurry of diplomacy to denuclearize North Korea.

Kang will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, which kicked off Monday and brings together key stakeholders involved in negotiations over the North’s dismantling of nuclear arsenal, sparking speculations of a possible three-way meeting among Kang, her North Korean and US counterparts. 


During her six-day visit to the ARF, the only Asia-Pacific consultative group in which North Korea is a member, Kang will have a multilateral meeting on Saturday with her counterparts from 15 countries, including North Korea, the US, China and Japan.

“Kang will explain our government’s efforts for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace, and ask for support and cooperation of the ASEAN countries and international community about our Korean Peninsula policy,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Her visit to the annual forum comes amid rising hopes for a breakthrough in the follow-up negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington over the reclusive country’s denuclearization after North Korea returned the 55 sets of remains of US soldiers killed during the Korean War on Friday.

Kang is likely to sit down for bilateral talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It remains unclear whether she will hold bilateral talks with North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. She has expressed hope to hold a meeting with Ri on the sidelines of the ARF.

Attention is on whether Kang, Ri and Pompeo would have a trilateral meeting, where they could discuss declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

The North has stepped up demands on Seoul and Washington to discuss bringing an end to the war, viewing it as the first step to building trust and restoring relations. The US, on the other hand, appears to remain cautious amid skepticism at home about the North’s willingness to denuclearize.

Kang’s another main task will be seeking support from the 10 member countries of ASEAN and international community to push for the government’s campaign to foster cooperation and exchanges with the ASEAN bloc, according to the ministry.

She will also take part in four other ASEAN-related sessions -- an ASEAN-South Korea foreign ministers’ meeting and a Mekong-South Korea foreign ministers’ meeting Friday, and ASEAN Plus Three and East Asia Summit on Saturday.

On the sidelines, Kang is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with her counterparts from some 15 countries, according to the ministry.

The ARF is hosted by the 10 Southeast Asian nations -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The ASEAN invites other participants outside the ASEAN bloc to join the ARF to bring about a more predictable and constructive pattern of relations in the Asia Pacific. The partners are North Korea, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, India, the European Union, New Zealand, the US, Russia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.