Duterte to echo calls for peaceful denuclearization of N. Korea in Asean meet

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing the media following the conclusion of the 30th ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Manila, Philippines, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Duterte suggested Saturday to his American counterpart to back out from an intensifying standoff with North Korea not in surrender but to avoid risking a nuclear "holocaust" that could affect Asia immensely. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

President Rodrigo Duterte, as chairman of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), reiterated his call to peacefully denuclearize North Korea as he expressed “grave concern” over the country’s “ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction.”

In a draft joint statement obtained on Monday by INQUIRER.net, Mr. Duterte said: “We expressed grave concern over the DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile technologies, which are in contravention of UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions.”

According to the 2017 Asean Summit chairperson, “these developments seriously threaten peace and stability in the entire region and beyond.”

“We strongly urged the DPRK to fully and immediately comply with its obligations arising from all the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” Duterte said.

Further, Mr. Duterte encouraged North Korea to exercise self-restraint and resume dialogue to de-escalate tensions brought by its previous nuclear tests.

“We reiterated our support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and called for the exercise of self-restraint and the resumption of dialogue in order to de-escalate tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability,” he noted.

Duterte said the regional bloc stays firm in its shared commitment to preserve the region as a “Nuclear Weapon Free Zone” and free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) Treaty and the Asean Charter.

“We welcomed the SEANWFZ Commission’s decision in August 2017 to extend the Plan of Action (POA) on Strengthening the Implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty for another five-year period (2018-2022) and encouraged the full and effective implementation of the POA,” the current Asean chairman said.

“We reaffirmed the need to continue consultations with Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) in resolving the outstanding issues with regard to the signing and ratification of the Protocol, in accordance with the objectives and principles of the SEANWFZ Treaty,” he added.

Mr. Duterte is slated to issue the statement at the culmination of the 31st Asean Summit and Related Meetings on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, in Manila.     /kga

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