North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong may attend the World Economic Forum 2016 in Davos, Switzerland, sources told South Korea’s state-run news agency Yonhap Monday. If confirmed, Ri’s attendance at the event will be the first such visit by a North Korean foreign minister in 18 years.
The sources said, according to Yonhap, that North Korea is discussing the visit with the host and Ri is set to take a North Korean delegation to the forum, which will be held from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23.
The Yonhap report also said, citing experts, that Ri’s visit may be used by the Kim Jong Un-led country to promote its economic and investment policies just before its plans to hold the first congress in three decades for the ruling Workers' Party of Korea in May.
It is expected that Kim may launch some new policies or conduct a major reshuffle at the congress. Meanwhile, in his new year’s address, Kim hinted that boosting the economy will be a key priority for policy change and he will be focused on improving the quality of life in the country.
North Korea faces sanctions from the U.S. and other Western countries aimed mainly at discouraging the reclusive nation's ambitions to become a nuclear power. However, Pyongyang is believed to have conducted tests for ballistic missiles, long-range missiles, along with three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 at its facility in Punggye-ri in the North Hamgyong Province. Satellite images have reportedly shown movements at its nuclear site suggesting that the country may be trying to make the facility operational.
In December, Kim announced that North Korea has developed hydrogen bombs, but the claim was seen with skepticism by experts.
North Korea also has been slammed by international organizations, including the United Nations, over its alleged human rights violations. But Pyongyang has repeatedly denied the allegations.