Asean says gravely concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks at the start of the Leaders' Plenary session during the one-off summit of 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Sydney on March 18, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The Association of South-east Asian Nations and Australia said on Sunday (March 18) that they held "grave concerns" about escalating tensions caused by North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

"We strongly urge the DPRK to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions," the countries said in a joint declaration, using the initials for North Korea's official name.

The country's nuclear and ballistic missile development "threaten regional and global security", the declaration added.

Australia is hosting Asean meetings this weekend, despite not being a member of the 10-nation bloc, as it seeks to tighten political and trade ties in the region amid China's rising influence.

Officially, the Asean summit has focused on fostering closer economic ties among the members of Asean and Australia, and countering the threat of Islamist militants returning to the region from the Middle East.

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