North Korea escalation, South China Sea dominate ASEAN meeting in Manila

Cheryl Sanders
April 30, 2017

But Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers meeting in Manila on Friday were expected to criticize North Korea for its two atomic weapons tests past year and subsequent launch of ballistic missiles, according to a draft of their statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

'ASEAN is mindful that instability in the Korean Peninsula will have serious impact to the region and beyond'.

It called on North Korea and other concerned parties "to exercise self-restraint" to "de-escalate the tension".

The meeting came just hours before North Korea test-fired another ballistic missile but it "failed" to go beyond its territory.

Tillerson called on all countries to downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea and impose targeted sanctions on entities and individuals supporting Pyongyang's missile and nuclear program.

"Such intrusion has created the danger of military conflict in the hotspotwaters in the West Sea of Korea beset with constant tension", the KCNA said.

"True we have high economic growth rates, all of these varies across countries but this economic growth has not benefited most of ASEAN peoples".

Kim responded saying: "As we expected, (the) USA has taken issue with self-defensive nuclear deterrent of the DPRK, and not only to justify their anti-DPRK aggressive war racket but also to create atmosphere for sanctions against DPRK at any cost".

The Security Council meeting follows weeks of warnings from the USA administration that it will no longer tolerate North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests.

"The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real, and it is likely only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the United States mainland", he said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged new sanctions against North Korea, declaring that failure to act would be "catastrophic".

He also called on the DPRK authorities to engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms and with the global community to address the grave human rights situation and improve the living conditions of its people.

Russia's own statements on the North Korean nuclear situation have kept to the tone of Wang's statement, with Russian Security Chief Nikolai Patrushev warning earlier this week that the peninsula is on the "brink of war" but blamed external forces for escalating tension.

Japan's defense ministry says two Japanese F-15 fighter jets have participated in the ongoing joint exercise between the USS Carl Vinson strike group and two Japanese destroyers.

The U.S. will urge the U.N. Security Council to increase economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and to lean on China to turn the screws on its wayward ally.

South Korea has blamed Pyongyang for the killing, accusing its agents of using a banned nerve agent.

China, the only major ally of North Korea, has been increasingly uncomfortable in recent months about its neighbour's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles in violation on United Nations resolutions.

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