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France to open North Korea office

By the CNN Wire Staff
September 29, 2011 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
North Korea's capital Pyongyang, like Paris, has an
North Korea's capital Pyongyang, like Paris, has an "Arch of Triumph."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The office will help meet cultural and humanitarian needs, France says
  • It will open in the coming days in Pyongyang, the French Foreign Ministry says

Paris (CNN) -- France is to open an office in North Korea in the coming days to build cultural ties and help with aid efforts, the French Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The creation of this office responds to "a decision made by French authorities that takes into consideration identified cultural and humanitarian needs," a statement from the minister of foreign affairs' office said.

The Office of French Cooperation in Pyongyang will be directed by diplomat and cultural cooperation expert Olivier Vaysset, the statement said.

"His goal will be to help the North Korean people, who are hit hard by many different kinds of restrictions, and to continue our cooperation activities in the domains of language, education and culture," it said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Pak Gil Yon, vice foreign minister for North Korea, on Wednesday, his office said.

The pair discussed food shortages and related humanitarian problems in the North Korea, particularly since recent floods, the statement said.

Ban said more international aid was needed and urged North Korea to improve its cooperation with U.N. agencies to help that happen. He also urged continued dialogue on the issue of North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

CNN's Winnie Andrews contributed to this report.

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