(LEAD) N. Korean, Vietnamese party officials call for boosting bilateral ties

SEOUL, A senior North Korean official has reached a consensus with his Vietnamese counterpart on boosting cooperation and advancing their bilateral ties to a new level, Pyongyang's state media said Wednesday. The move came during a meeting between Kim Song-nam, director of the international department at the Workers' Party, and Le Hoai Trung, secretary of the central committee and head of the central committee for foreign affairs at Vietnam's Communist Party, in Hanoi on Monday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Kim arrived in the Southeast Asian country from China for the second leg of his three-nation trip that will also take him to Laos. The trip came as North Korea appears to be resuming diplomatic activity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), following years of Pyongyang's COVID-19 border shutdowns. Laos plans to host the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and other ASEAN-related meetings as this year's chair country. The annual ARF is the sole regional forum joined by North Korea. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Meanwhile, a North Korean delegation led by External Economic Relations Minister Yun Jong-ho arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, Alexander Kozlov, Russian minister of natural resources and environment, wrote on Telegram. Kozlov, the chairman of the intergovernmental commission on cooperation between Russia and North Korea, said a large delegation led by Yun will stay in Moscow for several days, without providing further details of their trip. The visit comes as Pyongyang and Moscow have been deepening cooperation in defense and other areas following a rare summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in September. Source: Yonhap News Agency