S Korea Welcomes Paek Visit to Cambodia

South Korean embassy officials say they welcome the visit to Cambodia by North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun, who is scheduled to arrive Sat­urday for a three-day visit.

“We encourage the [Cam­bodian] government to be open to North Korea,” said Seung Jun Oh, first secretary of the South Korean embassy.

South Korean embassy officials do not have plans to meet Paek, because he already met with South Korean Foreign Minister Lee Joung Binn in Bangkok before coming to Cambodia.

“We have not received any instructions from the South Korean government to meet him,” Oh said.

Paek is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen, Na­tional Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Senate President Chea Sim, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said.

Paek will also hold bilateral talks with Uch Kim An, secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and have an audience with King Norodom Sihanouk. Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who invited Paek to Cambodia, will host a dinner for his North Korean counterpart.

Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of the Cambodian Insti­tute for Cooperation and Peace, said Paek’s visit is part of North Korea’s current policy of engaging other countries.

He noted that Cambodia al­ready has a history of good relations with North Korea because of the King, who is credited with helping Asean in its bid to invite North Korea for the group’s ministerial meeting this week.

King Sihanouk has had a long-standing relationship with North Korea and considered the late communist leader Kim Il Sung a close friend. After he was overthrown in a 1970 coup d’etat, the King spent his years in exile in Beijing and in Pyongyang.

“Friendship builds trust,” Kao Kim Hourn said. “I’m very happy to see that the relationship be­tween our King and North Korea brought positive results. This shows that Cambodia, even as a small country, can contribute to regional security.”

Paek is scheduled to leave Monday.

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