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Asean issues strong rebuke, warning to North Korea

/ 06:21 PM August 05, 2017
Alan Peter Cayetano - Retno Marsudi - Asean - 5 Aug 2017

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (right) discusses contents of Asean draft documents to Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi during a meeting of the 50th Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) Regional Forum in Manila, Aug. 5, 2017. Alarm over North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests, a tentative step to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a disastrous siege by pro-Islamic State group militants will grab the spotlight in an annual gathering of Southeast Asia’s top diplomats with their Asian and Western counterparts. (Pool photo by ERIK DE CASTRO via AP)

Southeast Asia’s top diplomats slammed North Korea with a sharp rebuke Saturday over its intercontinental ballistic missile tests and admonished Pyongyang to comply with its duty of helping avert conflicts as a member of Asia’s biggest security forum.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers, however, were split on an American proposal to suspend Pyongyang from the Asean Regional Forum, a 27-nation bloc that includes North Korea and its bitter adversaries the US, South Korea, and Japan.

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The Asean ministers reiterated in a joint statement their grave concerns over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula due to the North’s two ICBM tests last month, saying the launches threaten world stability.

The ministers traditionally issue a communique containing their diverse concerns, and their issuance of a separate statement on North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear weapons program reflects their deep worries about the issue.

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“These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world,” the ministers said in their statement. They urged the North to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.

They also backed efforts to improve relations between the two Koreas and said their 10-nation bloc was ready “to play a constructive role in contributing to peace and stability” on the Korean Peninsula.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the ministers were divided over a US proposal to suspend the North from the Asean Regional Forum, which will hold its annual meeting on Monday.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho will attend Monday’s meeting. With the US, Japan and South Korea expected to push for stronger actions against the North, a verbal showdown looms at the Manila forum.

“There were views that, ’How can we hear them out or confront them if they’re not there?’ But there’s also a view that we should give them an ultimatum,” Cayetano said late Friday after discussing the issue with other foreign ministers.

The ministers “strongly call upon” North Korea, as a member of the Asean Regional Forum, to help “maintain the Asia Pacific as a region of lasting peace, stability, friendship and prosperity,” the ministers said in their statement.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting, Asean Regional Forum, North Korean missile crisis, Ri Yong Ho
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