Despite issuing blood-curdling threats of a nuclear strike on the USA, North Korea’s top diplomat will attend a regional summit in Manila next month.
The secretive state’s vice foreign minister met his Philippine counterpart in Manila today (Wednesday, July 26) to prepare for the regional security meeting, at which Pyongyang’s weapons programmes will be high on the agenda.
The visit came a day after North Korea had threatened a nuclear strike on the USA.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said: “Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”
The threat was in response into comments by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who last week said that Kim Jong Un should be “separated” from his growing nuclear stockpile.
Despite this fiery rhetoric, today’s visit by vice foreign minister Choe Hui Choi confirmed that his boss, Ri Su-yong, would participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on August 7.
The 27-member ARF’s annual meetings are also attended by the foreign ministers of South Korea, the USA, China, Russia and Japan.
In May, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed Southeast Asian foreign ministers to ensure “leak-proof” enforcement of sanctions against North Korea.
The foreign ministers were from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which is at the heart of next week’s meeting.
The Trump administration has been pushing the international community — and particularly China — to intensify pressure on Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme before it can pose a direct threat to mainland USA.
Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, following numerous other tests since February.