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Officials From Two Koreas Could Confer at Summit

FILE - Deputy Prime Minister Hwang Woo-yea is leading South Korea's delegation to an Asian-African summit set to begin Wednesday in Indonesia.

The possibility of an inter-Korean meeting is emerging at an Asian-African summit in Indonesia this week.

Representatives of more than 100 countries, including high-level delegations from the two Koreas, are expected to attend the two-day summit, which is to begin Wednesday.

Pyongyang’s delegation is led by Kim Yong-nam, the country’s nominal head and the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. Seoul sent a delegation of senior officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Hwang Woo-yea.

The summit provides a rare opportunity for a meeting between the two sides, though Seoul said there was no such session on its schedule.

“My understanding is we have no plan for such a meeting, although we can’t rule out a chance for a brief meeting,” Noh Kwang-il, spokesman for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters Tuesday.

In 2005, the North’s Kim met with South Korea’s then-prime minister and discussed bilateral issues, including the resumption of government-to-government talks.

Kim is likely to deliver an address on the first day of the summit, and Hwang’s speech is expected to follow Kim’s. Some analysts in Seoul said Pyongyang and Seoul could clash over North Korea’s human rights record and nuclear development. When asked whether Hwang would raise Pyongyang’s human rights situation and the nuclear issue in his speech, a South Korean official said he couldn't discuss what would be in the address.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea’s University of North Korea Studies, told the VOA Korean service it was possible that the two sides would exchange words over the North’s human rights.

High-level talks between two Koreas have been stalled since last October, when Pyongyang suddenly dispatched a group of senior officials, including the country’s second-highest official, to Seoul to attend the Asian Games closing ceremony.

Recently, South Korean President Park Geun-hye decided not to attend Russia’s Victory Day ceremony next month, which is expected to include North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.