Pyongyang causes Asean ‘grave’ worry

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Pyongyang causes Asean ‘grave’ worry

Top diplomats from Asia-Pacific countries expressed “grave concern” on Tuesday over North Korea’s escalation of regional tensions and urged it to comply with UN Security Council resolutions.

In the chairman’s statement, the Asean Regional Forum also expressed support for the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” denuclearization of the North in a peaceful manner.

The statement was issued a day after the meeting of the 27 members of the major regional security forum in Manila.

“The ministers expressed their grave concern over recent developments in the Korean Peninsula including the most recent testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK] of intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs] on July 4 and July 28, 2017 and previous ballistic missile launches and two nuclear tests in 2016,” the statement said.

“They urged the DPRK to immediately comply fully with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council [UNSC] resolutions. Some ministers reiterated their support for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner,” it added.

The ARF, launched in 1994, is a rare multilateral diplomatic stage to which North Korea also sends its foreign minister annually.

This year’s forum came amid increasing pressure on the North following its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests, which prompted the Security Council to adopt a fresh sanctions resolution Saturday that includes a complete ban on its exports of coal, deemed to be its main source of hard currency.

At the ARF, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho denounced the latest UNSC resolution as a “fabrication” and threatened to retaliate against the United States.

He also said there will be no negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs unless the United States gives up its “hostile” policy toward his nation.

ARF members voiced their support for Seoul’s efforts to engage the North and resolve the nuclear problem peacefully.

“Some ministers also expressed support for the initiatives to improve inter-Korean relations and to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said. “The participants’ attention were called to two proposals, namely, double freeze and simultaneous progress and phase-by-phase plan, as a possible way of addressing the situation in the Korean Peninsula.”

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