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Two Koreas' diplomats to attend Russian forum this week

South Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday it will dispatch a director general-level official to an international forum on nonproliferation in Moscow this week, in which a key North Korean diplomat will also take part.

The diplomats of the two Koreas have no schedule yet for a formal meeting there, but there's a possibility that they will encounter each other.

"Lee Sang-hwa, director general for North Korean nuclear affairs, will visit Russia to attend the Nonproliferation Conference to be held in Moscow on Oct. 20-21 (local time)," the ministry's spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said at a press briefing.


Lee, who doubles as Seoul's deputy nuclear envoy, will hold talks with Russia's ambassador-at-large Oleg Burmistrov on the sidelines of the session, Noh added.

"The Russia visit by South Korea's deputy chief delegate to the six-party talks is meaningful in that it shows our leading efforts in connection with the North Korea nuclear issue amid a series of consultations among the chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the US and Japan in Seoul this week," Noh said.

Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, is already in the Russian capital for the forum, one of the largest diplomatic security conferences held in the country.

She had separate talks with Burmistrov, a Russian official dealing with the North Korea issue.

The multilateral event may set the stage for the first meeting between the two Koreas' government officials since the ASEAN Regional Forum that took place in the Philippines in August. At that time, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha talked informally with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho for about three minutes.

On the possibility of a similar contact in Moscow, Noh said, "There's no plan for now."

In the Moscow session, meanwhile, the North's official will reportedly hold the so-called Track 1.5 semi-official discussions with retired American government officials, such as former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and former State Department special adviser Robert Einhorn. (Yonhap)