Asean: Korea standoff threatens global peace

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha answers questions from reporters as she arrives at the NAIA yesterday to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. AP

MANILA, Philippines – Southeast Asian foreign ministers yesterday expressed grave concern about rising tensions in 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 Southeast 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.

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

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.

The statement of the ASEAN foreign ministers on the developments in the Korean Peninsula was issued yesterday even before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was to arrive in Manila to participate in Asia’s biggest security forum.

The ASEAN foreign ministers’ statement declared: “We, the foreign ministers of the ASEAN, reiterate our grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula, including the most recent testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) on 4 and 28 July 2017 and previous ballistic missile launches and two nuclear tests in 2016.”

The ministers urged North Korea to immediately comply fully with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

“We reiterate our support for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, call for the exercise of self-restraint and underscore the importance of creating conditions conducive for dialogue to de-escalate tensions,” the statement said.

North Korea was urged to contribute to the ARF vision as a participant of the ARF.

“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.

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 already isolated nation.

ASEAN countries have argued that it is difficult since its members do not have substantive ties with North Korea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is chairing the Manila meetings, said on Friday ASEAN would not consider expelling North Korea from the ARF.

He argued it is better to have dialogue and utilize a rare opportunity where parties involved in the issue are meeting together.

“There were views that, how can we hear them out or confront them (North Korea) if they’re not there?” he told reporters after a late-night discussion with his ASEAN counterparts.

Some Asian countries, including South Korea, are hoping to have bilateral talks with North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-Ho.

He left Pyongyang yesterday and was en route to Manila, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported.

“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.”

The United Nations Security Council was set to vote yesterday on a US-drafted resolution that aims to slash by a third North Korea’s $3-billion annual export revenue over Pyongyang’s two 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 yesterday, it said diplomats were told the US “trumpeting” about war and its threat of sanctions only increased Pyongyang’s “vigilance and courage,” and justification for its tests.

Open to discussion

Kang said she was open to rare discussions with her North Korean counterpart.

“If there is an opportunity that naturally occurs, we should talk,” she added.

Kang, South Korea’s first female foreign minister, said any meeting with Ri would be an opportunity “to deliver our desire for the North to stop its provocations and positively respond to our recent special offers (for talks) aimed at establishing a peace regime.”

Seoul last month proposed military talks with Pyongyang but the North refused to respond. Had they gone ahead, they would have been the first official inter-Korean talks since 2015.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has defied international pressure to decelerate his country’s nuclear weapons capabilities, and boasted after the second ICBM test that he could strike any target in the US.

In response, Washington drafted the planned UN resolution to toughen sanctions against Pyongyang.

The US also said it hoped to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila forum.  – AFP

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One Response to “Asean: Korea standoff threatens global peace”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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