MANILA TO SEEK ASEAN CONSENSUS ON N. KOREA
US is pressuring for tougher action against Pyongyang
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.