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Clinton heads to SE Asia for talks on NKorea, Myanmar

world Updated: Jul 21, 2009 13:52 IST

AFP
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to Thailand on Tuesday for a regional security conference expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear threat, Myanmar's rights record and terrorism.

Following a five-day visit to India, Clinton left New Delhi for Bangkok, where she will meet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, before heading on Wednesday to the island of Phuket for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF).

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Clinton's talks with Abhisit would focus on "cooperation on climate change and counter-terrorism, regional security, and Thailand's leadership role as ASEAN chair."

US officials said a key thrust of her debut appearance at the ARF would be how to crank up the pressure on North Korea to return to multilateral nuclear disarmament talks after its missile and nuclear weapons tests.

They said Clinton will meet one-on-one with her counterparts from South Korea, China, Japan and Russia which along with the United States were North Korea's partners in six years of disarmament negotiations.

North Korea withdrew from the talks after the United Nations censured its long-range missile test in April. The showdown with the international community took another turn for the worse when it staged a nuclear test in May.