U.S. calls for more pressure on N Korea ahead of Asia security forum
The U.S. on Thursday urged Asia-Pacific countries to step up pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme and use an upcoming security forum in the Philippines to call on Pyongyang to stop its “unlawful actions.”
Manila will host the annual ministerial meetings of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partners starting on Sunday, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia’s largest security conference.
Twenty-seven countries, including the U.S., North Korea, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, are members of the ARF.
“Although North Korea is a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, we continue to encourage all countries, including ASEAN members, to downgrade diplomatic engagements or exchanges with the North Korea,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.
“We hope that all ARF members will use this forum, which is designed to address regional peace and security, to highlight [the fact] that North Korea’s behaviour has been unacceptable and call upon North Korea to cease its unlawful actions,” the ambassy added.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to galvanise condemnation of North Korea in the hopes of further isolating Pyongyang during the ARF meeting in Manila, said Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
“What we have been sort of looking at is having a serious discussion of what it would take for a member to be suspended from this organisation that is dedicated to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy,” she said in Washington on Wednesday.
On July 28, North Korea test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile and said that all the U.S. mainland was now within its range.
Pyongyang first undertook its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
Tests by North Korea of two nuclear bombs and various missiles have increased tensions on the Korean peninsula since the start of last year.
ASEAN, which includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, is “very much concerned about the developments in the Korean Peninsula,” said Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesman Robespierre Bolivar.
The ARF has no “hard and fast rules” about expelling countries from the forum, where all key parties to the Korean Peninsula issue are members, Bolivar said.
“It provides a very candid venue for all parties to express concerns, and to try to find cooperative ways of addressing the issue,” he added.
“There is an opportunity for them to exchange views on issues of concern.”
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