North Korea's foreign minister to attend Davos forum

NEW YORK - North Korea's foreign minister will attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland this month, organizers said, stepping on the international stage just weeks after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in defiance of a United Nations ban.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Wednesday that Ri Su Yong would be going to the Swiss resort town of Davos for the gathering of the world's business and political elite from Jan. 20-23.

North Korea last sent a delegation to the forum in 1998.

South Korea is sending a delegation which the WEF said would be led by Choi Kyung-hwan. But 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.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be attending as will US 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.

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.