North Korea foreign minister leaves Pyongyang to deliver U.N. speech

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho left Pyongyang on Tuesday to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, according to Japanese media.

Television network NHK reported North Korea's top diplomat had landed in Beijing, the main transfer point for North Korean officials making their way to a third country.

Ri's visit to U.N. headquarters in New York will include a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a keynote address to the assembly on Friday.

North Korea has sent its foreign ministers to the U.N. convention since 2014.

Ri, who was appointed to his position in 2016, attended last year's assembly, where he briefly shook hands with former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This week, he is expected to defend North Korea's nuclear weapons program as a means of strengthening self-defense.

Permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China, have all called for North Korea to denuclearize and resume talks.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have remained firm on the condition of denuclearization as the basis for credible talks.

Those expectations have been destroyed on several occasions.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, launched what experts say are two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, the Hwasong-14, then launched two midrange rockets, the Hwasong-12, on Aug. 29 and on Sept. 15.

Ri, who will meet with Guterres, could also meet briefly with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa.

The two spoke for about three minutes at the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Philippines in August.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the Kim Jong Un regime as "deprived," during his address to the U.N. He condemned the human rights situation in North Korea.

"Denuclearization is its only acceptable future," Trump said, after denouncing the death of "innocent American college student" Otto Warmbier and the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of the North Korean leader.
Elizabeth Shim

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