Duterte backs Ja­pan’s bid to pres­sure NKorea

Manila Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY CATHER­INE S. VALENTE

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte threw his sup­port be­hind Ja­pan’s call to in­crease pres­sure on North Korea and cau­tioned Pres­i­dent Kim Jong-un not to threaten the world with his nu­clear mis­siles.

Duterte made the as­sur­ance in a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on the side­lines of the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) Sum­mit in Pasay City on Mon­day night.

In his remarks dur­ing the meet­ing, Duterte as­sured Abe of Philip­pines sup­port for Ja­pan’s po­si­tion against North Korea as it was a “mat­ter of in­ter­est” for the two coun­tries.

“We have said it sev­eral times al­ready in the past that it is not to the in­ter­est of North Korea to swag­ger around and threaten the world, of keep­ing us hostage with the atomic weapons,” Duterte told Abe.

Abe stressed that Pyongyang’s nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties and mis­sile tests were “grave and

im­mi­nent” threats.

“We need to make North Korea change their pol­icy by en­hanc­ing the pres­sure ap­plied to North Korea to the high­est level by all avail­able means, in­clud­ing the full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the [United Na­tions] Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s res­o­lu­tions,” Abe said in his remarks.

Kim ‘re­spon­si­ble’

Duterte said Kim should re­al­ize that he would be held re­spon­si­ble in the event that Pyongyang’s nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties cause a global catas­tro­phe.

“We con­demn his sev­eral launch­ing of mis­siles. It is bad. It puts a strain on everybody, not only on Ja­pan but all over the world,” the Pres­i­dent said.

“And he should re­al­ize that he’d be re­spon­si­ble for end­ing life in this planet if his mind goes out of con­trol,” he added.

Duterte also said the Asean was do­ing its part to try to per­suade Kim to stop his nu­clear ami­bi­tions.

“That is why we are per­suad­ing him, maybe plead­ing (with) him to stop the ag­gres­sive pos­ture be­cause we are not… The Philip- pines is about too far but, you know, no­body will save us from a holo­caust if it hap­pens,” he said.

“We con­demn the con­tin­ued pos­tur­ing of North Korea with the nu­clear weapons,” the Pres­i­dent added.

De- es­ca­la­tion first

On Sun­day, Asean Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Le Luong Minh told The

Mani­la­Times the de-es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions in the Korean Penin­sula was the 10-mem­ber bloc’s pri­or­ity.

Asean is also for the even­tual de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean penin­sula, the Viet­namese diplo­mat stressed.

“Asean stands ready to play a con­struc­tive role in the search of a so­lu­tion to the sit­u­a­tion,” he said in an in­ter­view.

Minh said Asean would like to ex­er­cise this role with re­spect to all rel­e­vant UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

North Korea has con­tin­ued to beef up its nu­clear pro­gram de­spite UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions and wide­spread con­dem­na­tion by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

The rogue state pre­vi­ously threat­ened to launch bal­lis­tic mis­siles to­ward Guam, where a US mil­i­tary base is lo­cated, prompt­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to de­clare that he would meet any threat

Ja­pan and South Korea, East Asian coun­tries that also host US mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions, are like­wise brac­ing for pos­si­ble mis­sile at­tacks.

Peace

Duterte also called on the Asean and its di­a­logue part­ners South Korea, Ja­pan and China to main­tain peace in the East Asia re­gion.

“I urge my fel­low lead­ers to con­tinue nur­tur­ing peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, par­tic­u­larly within the Asean Plus Three, where we con­sider our­selves as one and a fam­ily. Over the past two decades, our co­op­er­a­tion con­tin­ued to ex­ter­nal part­ners’ co­op­er­a­tion. Shar­ing com­mon traits and val­ues deeply em­bed­ded in our tra­di­tions should help us de­velop a cul­ture of tol­er­ance and un­der­stand­ing among us, pro­vid­ing a space for pos­i­tive di­a­logue,” Duterte said in his speech at the Asean Plus Three (APT) 20th Com­mem­o­ra­tive Sum­mit held in Manila.

China’s Prime Min­is­ter Li Ke­qiang agreed, say­ing APT coop- er­a­tion en­abled Asian coun­tries the re­gion when it was hit by a

“Twenty years ago, we played a vi­tal role in re­spond­ing to the tra­di­tion. I hope that through this Sum­mit, we can build con­sen­sus and send a pos­i­tive sig­nal that we and ad­vance East Asia Eco­nomic peo­ple and the coun­try in the re­gion,” Li said.

Ja­pan Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said APT al­liance has broad­ened to in­clude food se­cu­rity, en­ergy, en­vi­ron­ment, and health.

“In the midst of con­cerns about the rise of pro­tec­tion­ism and in­ward look­ing ori­en­ta­tion in the world, in order to en­hance pre­dictabil­ity of the economies of the re­gion and the world, to mit­i­gate vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and to main­tain and strengthen the free Asean Plus Three be­comes in­creas­ingly greater,” Abe pointed out.

He said Ja­pan will sup­ply rice to Laos and Myan­mar this year through the APT emer­gency rice re­serve agree­ment. Tokyo will also give aid to the Marawi evac­uees.

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