The foreign ministers of North Korea and South Korea spoke face-to-face at a gala in Manila, according to South Korean media reports, at a time of heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s missile program.
South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha exchanged words with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum, according to the reports. The annual security dialogue draws in 27 countries, including North and South Korea, the United States, China and Russia.
It was the first high-level encounter between the two Koreas since South Korea President Moon Jae-in took office in May and comes after the United Nations Saturday approved the “strongest sanctions ever imposed” in response to North Korea’s missile testing.
Moon has long been a proponent of greater dialogue with Pyongyang in order to diffuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula. As an aide to President Roh Moo-hyun, Moon helped craft the so-called “Sunshine Policy,” which called for an increase of engagement in the political and economic spheres.
Kim Jong Un’s government said it would take an “action of justice” in response to the sanctions that were “fabricated by the U.S.,” Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday, without elaborating. It called the sanctions a violation of sovereignty.
The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved measures to restrict North Korea’s exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood after it tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the U.S. The sanctions would also punish some of its biggest companies and cap the number of its citizens working in other countries at current levels.
In a phone call on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump that North Korean issues must be resolved peacefully and diplomatically. He said the countries needed to show Pyongyang that the door to dialogue was open if North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons and missile programs, according to a Moon spokesman.