South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha exchanged words with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap and broadcaster YTN. The annual security dialogue draws in 27 countries, including North and South Korea, the United States, China and Russia.
The short conversation, though unlikely to lead to a diplomatic breakthrough, represents the first known high-level encounter between the two Koreas since South Korea President Moon Jae-in took office in May, and follows the United Nations’ decision Saturday to approve 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.
Tillerson: We’ll talk when the conditions are right
At a news conference in Manila Monday, Tillerson said North Korea’s latest round of sanctions showed that the international community was united in its response to Pyongyang’s long-range ballistic missile tests on July 4 and July 28.
"We hope again that this ultimately will result in North Korea coming to a conclusion to choose a different pathway, and when the conditions are right that we can sit and have a dialogue around the future of North Korea so that they feel secure and prosper economically," Tillerson said at the news conference.
The US has long said it would agree to talk only if North Korea agrees to denuclearization -- something many analysts believe is unlikely.