Philippines: top N. Korean diplomat to join security meeting

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — North Korea's top diplomat will attend an annual Asian security conference in Manila, where concern over the North's nuclear weapons program is expected to be high on the agenda, Philippine officials said.

A North Korean delegation led by its vice foreign minister flew to Manila on Wednesday to discuss the participation of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Ri's attendance at the meeting is definite, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told a news conference. The meeting is scheduled on Aug. 7, the department said.

The 27-member ARF's annual meetings are also attended by the foreign ministers of South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, countries involved in earlier six-nation talks aimed at taming North Korea's nuclear ambition. North Korea pulled out of the talks in 2009 to protest international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed Southeast Asian foreign ministers in a meeting at the State Department to ensure "leak-proof" enforcement of sanctions against North Korea and prevent the nation's diplomats from conducting business that could benefit its weapons programs.

The foreign ministers were from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which is hosting next month's meeting.

The Trump administration has been pushing to get the international community to intensify diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program before it can pose a direct threat to the American mainland.

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