US is pres­sur­ing for tougher ac­tion against Py­ongyang

New Straits Times - - World -

THE Philip­pines will seek agree­ment in South­east Asia on ways to en­gage with North Korea, fol­low­ing pres­sure from the United States to iso­late Py­ongyang over its mis­sile tests, Manila’s for­eign min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

The US is ex­pected to press Asean and other Asian coun­tries to take tougher ac­tion against North Korea, such as “dras­ti­cally” re­duc­ing deal­ings with the al­ready iso­lated state.

As Asean chair­man, the Philip­pines in the next few days will host meet­ings of for­eign min­is­ters from 27 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, China, In­dia, Ja­pan, Rus­sia, North and South Korea and the US, at which Py­ongyang’s mis­sile tests are ex­pected to take cen­tre stage.

“It’s a con­sen­sus-based or­gan­i­sa­tion, so what I can do is, af­ter tonight’s din­ner, in a hud­dle, con­sult the other mem­bers,” said For­eign Min­is­ter Alan Pe­ter Cayetano.

“I pre­dict there will be two sides to it. So, it’s a very hard de­ci­sion.”

North Korea is de­ter­mined to de­velop a nu­clear-tipped mis­sile ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the US. Of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton said its lat­est test on Satur­day showed it could reach most of the coun­try.

It was un­clear whether Asean would take a tougher line on North Korea, as ad­vo­cated by the US, or stick to its po­si­tion of call­ing for calm and ad­her­ence to United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

Some ex­perts be­lieve Asean could seek to play a role as a me­di­a­tor since it is an Asian bloc not party to the stand­off.

A draft Asean Re­gional Fo­rum chair­man’s state­ment said the for­eign min­is­ters would ex­press “grave con­cerns” about the Korean Penin­sula.

A For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial said North Korea’s ex­pected re­sponse would be to main­tain that its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme was a self-de­fence mea­sure. Reuters


A man cy­cling near the venue for the Asean meet­ing in Manila yes­ter­day.

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