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Newsline: North Korea said to purge ex-foreign minister

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has purged a former foreign minister who played an instrumental role in his summits with former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018-19, South Korean lawmakers said, citing intelligence officials. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that Ri has been purged but it was unclear whether he was executed, said Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee. Yoo said the agency did not explain why Ri was purged, and the lawmakers could not confirm the Yomiuri report that also said a few other diplomats who had worked at the North Korean Embassy in Britain were also executed. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/north-koreas-kim-purges-ex-foreign-minister-south-korean-lawmakers-say-2023-01-05/) Ri Yong Ho has remained out of the public eye since denuclerisation talks with Washington stalled following a failed summit in early 2019 in Vietnam between Kim and Trump, but Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Wednesday that he was executed last year, citing unnamed sources. Ri was last mentioned in North Korean state media in April 2020, when he was removed from the State Affairs Commission, a top decision-making body chaired by Kim. He was sacked from the top diplomat job months earlier. A soft-spoken, career diplomat with years of experience in nuclear negotiations, Ri accompanied Kim to both Singapore and Hanoi for summits with Trump in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

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