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US urges Asean allies to shun North Korea

/ 10:46 AM May 05, 2017
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) link arms in the iconic ASEAN way during the 30th ASEAN Summit Retreat at the Coconut Palace, Manila on April 29. (L-R) Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak; State Counsellor for Myanmar  Aung San Suu Kyi; Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha; Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc;  Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte; Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah; Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen; Indonesian President Joko Widodo; and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. Photo from DFA

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) link arms in the iconic ASEAN way during the 30th ASEAN Summit Retreat at the Coconut Palace, Manila on April 29. (L-R) Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak; State Counsellor for Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi; Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha; Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc; Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte; Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah; Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen; Indonesian President Joko Widodo; and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. Photo from DFA

WASHINGTON—US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged his South East Asian colleagues on Thursday to take further steps to isolate North Korea’s pariah regime.

President Donald Trump’s top diplomat met foreign ministers and top envoys from the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Washington.

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North Korea is under UN sanctions targeting its efforts to develop a nuclear missile arsenal, but Washington wants its Asian allies to do more.

Deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy told reporters that North Korea’s foreign missions are suspiciously large.

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READ: Asean to North Korea: Stop testing nukes

These embassies, he suggested, are not just diplomatic bases but serve to help Pyongyang illegally to evade sanctions and to carry out other “nefarious acts.”

And he cited as an example the murder with a nerve agent in February of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s brother Kim Jong-Nam in a Malaysian airport.

“And so countries have agreed, and in some cases have limited the size or reduced the size of the North Korean diplomatic presence in their countries,” Murphy said.

READ: Duterte urges Trump to ensure there’s no war with North Korea

“Some countries are taking a look at the presence of North Korean workers, which, again, is another revenue stream for North Korea, and is this appropriate.”

Murphy stressed ties with Pyongyang are a sovereign matter for Asean states, but confirmed that Tillerson had urged them to review their positions.

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“I do believe some countries are taking a look at their presence in North Korea and trying to assess if it’s appropriate or not,” he added.

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TAGS: ASEAN, Asia, Conflict, Donald Trump, North Korea, Rex Tillerson, US
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