ASEAN ministers to hold discussions on DPRK

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-04 18:18:52|Editor: Song Lifang
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MANILA, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN foreign ministers will discuss on Friday ways to deal with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which has continued its nuclear program despite international condemnation, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Cayetano told reporters that he planned to consult his counterparts on the Korean Peninsula issue again to explore how to engage the DPRK in the future, at an informal dinner on Friday night in preparation for the ASEAN ministerial meeting scheduled for Saturday.

"We feel as strongly as they feel that this testing of missiles does nothing but destabilize the region and also creates an atmosphere that's not conducive to resuming talks," Cayetano said.

The DPRK's behavior "courts accidents that can lead to armed conflict," Cayetano said. "We've been consistent in pointing out to North Korea what we feel is wrong."

Cayetano said the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a good venue to engage Pyangyang.

"You can talk harshly in front of your colleagues in ASEAN engagements like what we have, because we will have retreats and we will have areas that will be closed door. But the less we talk, the more grave the situation can become," Cayetano said.

Acting Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said earlier that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was "very much concerned" about the developments in the DPRK.

"All of us surrounding the region are very much concerned about the potential escalation of this issue," Bolivar told a news conference on Thursday.

The DPRK is attending the ARF on Monday, which is a forum for security in Asia established in 1994. It draws together 27 members which have a bearing on the security of the Asia Pacific.

Bolivar said the ARF is the only venue outside of the UN, where the DPRK participates in a roundtable discussions on security matters with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, the United States, the European Union and ASEAN.

"It is the only venue thus far that we have to promote candid and free flow dialogue and to actually express our concerns to the DPRK side in a face-to-face manner," Bolivar said.

The ARF is a forum for dialogue where all the parties discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula. "There is an opportunity for them to exchange views on (security) issues of concern, including the Korean Peninsula," Bolivar said.

He expressed hope that the ARF participants this weekend would "try to find some sort of grounds for proceeding to more productive, cooperative dialogue."

The ARF comprises the 10 members of ASEAN - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, plus ASEAN dialogue partners - Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States, and Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Pakistan, the DPRK, Sri Lanka, Mongolia and Bangladesh.