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North Korea sends senior diplomat to PHL ahead of security talks  

Amid a barrage of US threats, North Korea has sent a senior diplomat to the Philippines ahead of high-profile security talks that will be held in Manila next week.

"A delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, led by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Hui Chol, visited Manila today,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said Wednesday.

Bolivar provided vague details of Chol’s visit, but said the North Korean official met with his Philippine counterpart, Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, on Wednesday morning and that he will depart Manila the same day.

“The purpose of the visit is to discuss preparations for Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's participation at next week's ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum," Bolivar told journalists.

President Donald Trump earlier declared that he will use all options, including a military strike, against Pyongyang for threatening the United States and its regional allies.

At a summit hosted by the Philippines last April, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders expressed “grave concern” over North Korea’s nuclear tests, saying Pyongyang’s actions cause instability in the region and beyond.

They also appealed to North Korea and all concerned parties to exercise self-restraint to ease tensions and to refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation.

This is not the first time that North Korea sent an emissary to the Philippines.

Days before the ASEAN summit in April, North Korea’s Bangkok-based non-resident envoy to Manila met with Philippine officials to ask them “not to put North Korea under pressure” in ASEAN meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is likely to attend in early August, diplomatic sources previously told GMA News Online.

The ARF — the region’s largest security forum — is attended by foreign ministers of ASEAN countries and its 17 dialogue partners, among them the US, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea.

ASEAN groups the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. —KBK/KVD, GMA News