Published: Mon, August 07, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

ASEAN issues strong rebuke, warning to North Korea

ASEAN issues strong rebuke, warning to North Korea

The ASEAN position is short of the tougher line on North Korea urged by the U.S., which wants Southeast Asian countries to downgrade their relations with the already isolated nation.

Susan Thornton is the top US diplomat for Asia. The White House praised China's move to join a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution slapping new sanctions that could cut off about one-third of the North's roughly $3 billion in annual exports. When Tillerson announced it at the United Nations in April, he asked countries to fully implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea, suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with the country, and increase it's financial isolation.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said earlier that the ASEAN ministers were divided over a US proposal to remove North Korea from the ASEAN Regional Forum, a 27-member grouping that includes the North, along with its most bitter adversaries - South Korea, the United States and Japan.

However, it is feared to be overshadowed by China's anger about the ongoing deployment of a USA missile defense system in South Korea aimed at better defending against North Korea's missile threats.

For its part, China took a stronger line on its neighbor publicly, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warning, "Do not violate the U.N.'s decision or provoke the global society's goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests".

Mr Wang also urged the US and South Korea "to stop increasing tensions" and said that all sides should return to negotiations.

"We want to make sure China is continuing to implement fully the sanctions regime", Thornton told reporters in Manila.

Noting that sanctions are necessary but not the ultimate goal, the Minister said the measure aimed to bring parties concerned back to the negotiating table so as to seek a peaceful solution to North Korea's nuclear issue and realise denuclearisation as well as lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.

Mr Wang's statement repeated Beijing's proposal for a "double suspension", or a halt to North Korean nuclear development and to joint US-South Korean military exercises.

Thornton says the USA wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen".

In the meantime, the push to isolate North Korea continues, including in Manila.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers, however, were split on an American proposal to suspend Pyongyang from the ASEAN Regional Forum, a 27-nation bloc that includes North Korea and its bitter adversaries the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Trump's administration began floating potential plans to punish China for its trade practices in what was widely perceived as a reaction to China's inaction on North Korea. Tensions flared alarmingly in recent years over China's island-building works in one of the most disputed regions, where US naval and aerial patrols have challenged Beijing's claims.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks after voting on a US-drafted resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea at the Security Council. Very big financial impact!

Like this: