Southeast Asian nations body repeats North Korea stance

Sunday, 06 Aug, 2017

Aside from the United Nations, the ARF was the only venue where the worldwide community, including Southeast Asian countries, could reach North Korea, a Philippine official said recently. Wang declined to say what Ri had told him during their meeting.

The U.S. -drafted measure bans North Korea from exporting coal, iron and other items like seafood products.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho will head the delegation.

Collin Koh، a maritime security expert at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University، also told the daily that the drills could also be seen as a "call for peace" in the Yellow Sea and a signal to countries such as the United States that they should "not even entertain the thought of military action against North Korea".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met separately in Manila with the foreign ministers of Myanmar, Japan and South Korea as he begins his first official trip to Southeast Asia.

All the countries involved in the so-called six-party talks aimed at taming the North's nuclear ambitions belong to the ASEAN Regional Forum.

"You need deeper sanctions over a longer period of time, like years, before you can see if North Korea changes its behavior", Thomas Byrne, president of the New York-based Korea Society, said in a telephone interview.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks said the foreign ministers of the 10 nations on Saturday reviewed the success that Asean has achieved.

The US is also pushing for tougher steps in its latest UN Security Council resolution, which could be voted on as soon as Saturday.

The draft resolution condemns the launches "in the strongest terms" and reiterates previous calls for North Korea to suspend all ballistic missile launches and abandon its nuclear weapons and nuclear program "in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner".

According to local analysts, the timing and choice of location for the current exercises is more to do with reasserting China's regional power than an immediate need to test new hardware.

The two drafts highlight China's growing regional clout at a time of uncertainty whether the new U.S. administration will try to check Beijing's assertiveness in the disputed waters.

Separately, Southeast Asian officials were still trying to reach consensus on a customary communiqué that was supposed to have been released on Saturday, reflecting differences about how to address disputes involving Beijing in the South China Sea.

The problem is that no other country is willing to directly confront China, since it is economically and militarily more powerful and probably the most powerful in South East Asia.

It also calls for a creation of "a favorable environment for the peaceful settlement of the disputes; to ensure maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation and overflight".