North Korea's foreign minister uninvited from World Economic Forum meet after nuclear test

An Army soldier resets the barricade on a road leading into North Korea from South Korea.
An Army soldier resets the barricade on a road leading into North Korea from South Korea.PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - North Korea's foreign minister is no longer invited to the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) annual Davos meeting at the end of January following the country's latest nuclear test, organisers said on Wednesday (Jan 13).

Earlier in the day, a Davos statement said that Mr Ri Su Yong would attend the event in the Swiss resort from Jan 20 to Jan 23, the first time the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was to send a delegation since 1998.

Mr Philipp Roesler, a member of the Forum's managing board later told a news conference in Geneva that they had invited North Korea last year "because at the time there had been some convincing encouraging signals out of the DPRK that there may be an opportunity for international global dialogue".

"But we have seen what has happened last week, the nuclear test ... so there will be no opportunity for the international global dialogue in the spirit of the World Economic Forum ... Therefore we could not maintain our invitation to the DPRK."

The rescinded invitation comes just weeks after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in defiance of a United Nations ban.

South Korea is sending a delegation that the WEF said would be led by Mr Choi Kyung Hwan. But Mr Choi stepped down as South Korea's finance minister on Tuesday in preparation for running in parliamentary elections in April. It was unclear if he would still be going to Davos.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will be attending, as will United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice-President Joe Biden.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted 418-2 to pass legislation that would broaden sanctions over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Currently there are no plans for any bilateral meetings with the North Korean foreign minister, a spokeswoman for the WEF said.

Mr Ri spent two decades in Switzerland as ambassador and representative at the United Nations in Geneva. He acted as surrogate father to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un when Kim was a student at a Swiss school.

Global security will loom large at the Alpine forum, which will be attended by more than 2,500 people, including business leaders, finance ministers, central bankers, self-made billionaires and celebrities such as US actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Irish musician Bono.

The leaders of Argentina and Canada, both voted into office near the end of 2015, will be attending, the WEF said. British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu are also expected to attend.

There will be more than 250 panel discussions and workshops ranging from "The War on Water" to "The State of Artificial Intelligence".

The over-arching theme will be"Mastering Fourth Industrial Revolution" to look at how governments, companies and people can deal with and profit from rapid changes in technology.