Southeast Asian states warn North Korea, say missile tests threaten global peace

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 6, 2017

THE Foreign Ministers on Saturday strongly urged North Korea to immediately comply fully with its obligations under all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. It fired its first ICBM on July 4. One of the most important issues to be debated is the recent missile tests carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK); that is why that country is participating in the meeting.

The ARF and other ASEAN meetings come amid mounting pressure on the North following its continued missile provocations.

Aside from the 50th AMM, other major events slated during the week include Post Ministerial Conferences, 18thASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting, 7th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and 24th ASEAN Regional Forum. "But the militarisation of other features by other countries are mostly ignored and the security blanket all around China is not discussed", he said.

Beijing's growing naval capability may add another wrinkle to the talks, in particular its desire to take control of the key waterways of the South China Sea, which also caused concern to the Obama administration.

The issue of terrorism is vital especially now that the Philippines is confronted by atrocities of Islamic State-affiliated Maute fighters who occupied war-torn Marawi City in a bid to establish an enclave for Southeast Asian terrorists.

During Wednesday's briefing, Thornton downplayed concerns from the region that North Korea's threats are overshadowing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Like the Philippines, Vietnam also wanted Asean to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be "legally binding", which Beijing opposes.

They are expected to say that "pending the conclusion of a substantive COC", they will reaffirm "the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in and above the South China Sea", the sources said.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will make similar efforts to resolve the North Korea issue peacefully during bilateral talks here in the Philippines.

"We are studying how we can downgrade [the issue] because we don't have much engagement with them", he said.

However, the ruling of an worldwide arbitral tribunal nullifying China's massive claim on the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) may not be included in the regional code of conduct, the DFA said. He has ignored an worldwide court ruling dashing China's regional maritime claims in a case brought by his predecessor, helping him to secure $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from Beijing.

Taking office shortly before an global tribunal ruled in favor of Manila's claims on the widely contested South China Sea, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has warmer ties with China while aiming to draw in billions of dollars in Chinese aid and investment.

"We expect that the foreign ministers will endorse the framework as it is now approved by the senior officials in - last May - to endorse it during their meeting on August 6 in Manila", Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said.

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