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ASEAN Foreign Ministers Urge North Korea to Comply With UN


ASEAN Foreign Ministers applaud at the opening ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center, Aug. 5, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers expressed grave concern Saturday about rising tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from long-range missile tests by North Korea that “seriously threaten” global peace and security.

Taking a stronger tone than it has previously on the standoff, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for North Korea to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program and make a positive contribution to regional peace.

The statement was issued separately, rather than included in ASEAN’s customary communique at the end of the foreign ministers meeting.

Regional Forum on Monday

Following the foreign ministers meeting is Monday’s annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which gathers 27 foreign ministers, including those of Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, China and North Korea, to discuss Asian security issues.

“We strongly call upon (North Korea) as a participant of the ASEAN Regional Forum, to positively contribute to realize the ARF vision to maintain the Asia-Pacific as a region of lasting peace, stability, friendship and prosperity,” said the ASEAN ministers meeting in Manila.

People watch a news broadcast of a missile launch in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 29, 2017. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrated his country can hit the U.S. mainland.
People watch a news broadcast of a missile launch in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 29, 2017. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrated his country can hit the U.S. mainland.

North Korea is determined to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States, and officials in Washington say its latest test a week ago showed it may be able to reach most of the country.

China has urged calm and restraint from all countries involved in the standoff.

Short of tougher line

The ASEAN position is short of the tougher line on North Korea urged by the United States, which wants Southeast Asian countries to downgrade their relations with the isolated nation. ASEAN countries have argued that is difficult since its members do not have substantive ties with North Korea.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is chairing the Manila meetings, said Friday ASEAN would not consider expelling North Korea from the ARF. He argued it is better to have talk and use a rare opportunity where parties involved in the issue are meeting together.

Some Asian countries, including South Korea, are hoping to have bilateral talks with North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho. He left Pyongyang Saturday and was en route to Manila, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, center, arrives to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its dialogue partners at the airport in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 5, 2017.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, center, arrives to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its dialogue partners at the airport in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 5, 2017.

“If there is a chance, I would tell him that we must have dialogue and that the North must stop the continuous provocations,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha told reporters upon arrival in Manila. “Moreover, I will tell him that to build a peace system, North Korea must respond to the two proposals we recently suggested.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is to attend the Manila meeting and will press China and other Asian countries to take tougher action against North Korea.

UN Security Council vote

The United Nations Security Council was set to vote Saturday afternoon on a U.S.-drafted resolution that aims to slash by a third North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue over Pyongyang’s two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July.

North Korea briefed diplomats of Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in Pyongyang on Tuesday about the “resounding success” of its latest ICBM test, its foreign ministry said on its website.

In the posting Saturday, it said diplomats were told the U.S. “trumpeting” about war and its threat of sanctions only increased Pyongyang’s “vigilance and courage,” and justification for its tests.

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