North Korean foreign minister to visit Vietnam

Other News Materials 24 July 2008 15:33 (UTC +04:00)

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun is to visit Vietnam Saturday on his way home from a south-east Asian security forum in Singapore, Vietnam's government announced Thursday.

Vietnamese government spokesman Le Dung said Pak was to meet with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem Saturday to discuss "the implementation of agreements reached at high-ranking levels to promote traditional relations between the two countries."

At the security forum in Singapore, Pak held rare talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the foreign ministers of the other countries involved in the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, reported dpa.

Vietnam is one of the few countries that maintains friendly relations with Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited Vietnam in October and signed agreements on increasing the two countries' low level of bilateral trade.

Western diplomats frequently expressed the hope that North Korea might look to Vietnam, with its Communist government but increasingly capitalist economy, for advice on privatizing its economy and opening up to the outside world.

Responding to reporters' questions, Dung also reacted to recent Chinese warnings to US oil company Exxon to scrap its agreements with Vietnam on offshore oil exploration in the South China Sea, where China and Vietnam have conflicting territorial claims.

"The oil and gas exploration and exploitation projects jointly carried out by Vietnam and foreign countries are located in Vietnam's continental shelf and Vietnamese waters," Dung said. "They are totally conforming to Vietnam's sovereignty and the UN's Sea Treaty of 1982, and bilateral and multilateral agreements."