North Korean Foreign Minister Park Ui Chun arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at 2AM this morning (local time) to attend the annual ASEAN Regional Forum meeting of foreign ministers.
However, when asked by journalists at the airport whether or not members of the North Korean delegation planned to meet with either their South Korean or American counterparts, Park offered no response.
Aside from Foreign Minister Park, the North Korean delegation is comprised of ten individuals, including Lee Jong Ryeol, North Korea’s ASEAN ambassador, and North Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Hong Ki Cheol. Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean representative to the Six-Party Talks, is not in the party.
During the ARF meeting, North Korean, South Korean and U.S. delegates will inevitably cross paths, but due to tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, it is considered unlikely that they will make deliberate contact.
Although North Korean and American representatives did manage to have a dialogue during last year’s conference in Bali, Indonesia, North Korea’s missile launch this past April, coupled to some extremely aggressive rhetoric aimed at the lame duck president of South Korea, would make public diplomatic discussions politically difficult.
U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell has been no more forthcoming about whether or not Secretary of State Hilary Clinton plans to engage with the North Korean delegation in Cambodia, either. Asked on Monday about the possibility, he responded very briefly, saying, “I do not know with whom her team may or may not meet.”