Seoul: North Korea's foreign minister left for New York on Tuesday to attend the UN General Assembly session at a time of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula over Pyongyang's repeated weapons tests and increase in sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime.
Ri Yong-ho is unlikely to attend the UN General Assembly debate session, which begins on Tuesday.
The visit of Ri, former Pyongyang representative in the suspended six-party denuclearisation talks, comes after North Korea held its sixth nuclear test on 3 September, when it claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, Efe news reported.
A week later the UN had approved an eighth round of sanctions against the country.
Following the test, Spain had announced it would expel the North Korean ambassador in Madrid, becoming the fourth country to close North Korea's foreign mission, increasing Pyongyang's growing isolation by the international community.
In New York, Ri is expected to justify the North's nuclear weapons development programme as means to defend itself from a possible invasion by the US.
He is also expected to criticise the latest UN sanctions that for the first time imposed restrictions on crude oil exports to North Korea.
Pyongyang had responded to the sanctions by firing a mid-range missile last Friday that flew over Japan.
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Updated Date: Sep 19, 2017 16:33:49 IST