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By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Myanmar next week for a series of meetings with leaders of Southeast Asian and other nations and to participate in Asia's biggest annual security gathering, the State Department said Saturday.
Myanmar is this year's host of the annual meetings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the security session ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that draws all members of the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program. North Korea and Russia are also to attend the talks.
Kerry will arrive in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, on Aug. 9 for a three-day trip that includes meetings with Myanmar government officials, the ARF and other multilateral sessions, the State Department said in a press release.
"Engaging the region's multilateral institutions is one of the key aspects of U.S. commitment in Asia to promote peace, stability and prosperity. The secretary will also participate in a series of bilateral meetings," the statement said.
ARF and other ASEAN talks have drawn attention because they provide participating foreign ministers with chances to hold one-on-one meetings with each other on the sidelines of multilateral conferences. ARF is also one of the rare international gatherings that North Korea has regularly attended.
Kerry will also hold a series of bilateral meetings, the department said without providing further specifics, such as whom he plans to meet. The possibility of him meeting with his counterparts from North Korea or Russia will likely be watched closely.
After Myanmar, Kerry will visit Australia for an annual gathering of the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries, known as the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the department said.
The meeting is aimed at advancing security cooperation and discussing regional and global issues.
On Aug. 13, Kerry will travel to Honiara, Solomon Islands, to meet government leaders and attend wreath laying ceremonies at the World War II Guadalcanal American Memorial and the Solomon Scouts and Coastwatchers Memorial.
He will then depart for Hawaii to give remarks at the East-West Center on Aug. 13, it said.
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