Asean expresses grave concern over nuclear tests despite North Korea's appeal

Asean Foreign Ministers at a summit in Manila, the Philippines.
Asean Foreign Ministers at a summit in Manila, the Philippines.PHOTO: EPA
Asean Foreign Ministers and Secretary General Le Luong Minh pose for a family photo during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM).
Asean Foreign Ministers and Secretary General Le Luong Minh pose for a family photo during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM).PHOTO: EPA
Asean Foreign Ministers talk during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Manila, the Philippines, on April 28, 2017.
Asean Foreign Ministers talk during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Manila, the Philippines, on April 28, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

MANILA - South-east Asian countries on Friday (April 28) expressed “grave concern” over North Korea’s missile tests and ballistic missile launches, despite a rare appeal for support from Pyongyang.

In a statement released by the Philippines, foreign ministers of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) criticised North Korea for two nuclear tests last year and subsequent ballistic missile launches.

“Asean is mindful that instability in the Korean peninsula seriously impacts the region and beyond,” the foreign ministers said. 

They called on North Korea to “comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and international laws in the interest of maintaining international peace and security".

The ministers also urged Pyongyang “and all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint in order to de-escalate the tensions and refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation”.

“Asean supports the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and, in this regard, calls for the resumption of dialogue on the Korean peninsula to defuse tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability,” they said.

The Asean statement came a day after it was reported that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had written to Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh and warned that the situation on the Korean peninsula was “reaching the brink of war” because of Washington’s actions.

In the letter dated March 23, Ri appealed to Asean for support in its row with the United States to prevent what it warned could be a “nuclear holocaust”.

He urged the Asean chief to inform the foreign ministers of the 10-nation bloc “about the grave situation” on the peninsula and "give them a proper proposal”, while criticising at length US-South Korean military exercises.

Tensions have soared in the region in recent weeks in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests and tough rhetoric from Washington on the isolated nation’s rogue weapons programme.

rdancel@sph.com.sg