North Korean Foreign Minister to Visit the United States For First Time in 15 Years

According to the South Korean Broadcasting System, « North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong (a.k.a Ri Chol) is scheduled to visit the United States in mid-September for a United Nations general assembly in New York. This marks the first time a North Korean foreign minister will visit the U.S. in 15 years.


Sources have said Ri has personally requested to make a keynote address at the session as a state representative.

The last time a North Korean foreign minister was present for a United Nations general assembly was in 1999 when Paek Nam Sun held the position. In 1992, Kim Yong-nam had visited the U. S. to attend the session.

As these were the only occasions a high-ranking North Korean foreign ministry official had taken part in the UN general assembly since the North became a member state in 1991, speculations have risen over Ri’s pending visit.

One South Korean diplomatic source said Ri was not attending the assembly « just to make a keynote speech, » but rather to engage in negotiations with Washington for a change in chilled relations. »

Ri Chol is considered as open minded, close to Kim Jong-eun and realistic. He’s was a key economic advisor to Kim Jong-eun and was recently removed to more diplomatic issues.

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Nicolas Levi

Analyst on North Korean issues

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