The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed its support for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea to “maintain international peace,” ahead of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the country’s nuclear program.
The UNSC is slated to meet in a few hours with United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as chair of the special ministerial meeting. The meeting aims to encourage members to proactively “maximize existing UN” measures against North Korea for its illegal nuclear tests.
The ASEAN Summit in Manila, meanwhile, commenced on Wednesday, where meetings tackled economic growth, environmental safety, peace and cooperation in the Southeast Asian region. The ASEAN bloc was completed on Friday as most heads of the government had arrived.
Inclusion was central to today’s agenda, as senior officials believe in its promise in preventing marginalized people from “turning to violent extremism,” according to Reuters. But another important highlight of the events today was the bloc’s call for “calm” amidst tensions over the Korean peninsula, and its stance on North Korea’s denuclearization.
“ASEAN supports the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and in this regard, calls for the resumption of dialogue on the Korean peninsula to diffuse tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability,” ASEAN foreign ministers announced in a statement Friday.
The bloc also stressed on North Korea’s compliance with the laws and regulations it is bound to for the sake of “international peace and security.”
“ASEAN strongly urges the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions and International laws in the interest of maintaining international peace and security.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN event, Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, told Reuters that ASEAN member countries are “worried” about the situation in the Korean peninsula.
“The Korean peninsula is not that far from Southeast Asia. So whatever happens in the Korean peninsula, for sure it will affect us,” Marsudi said in an interview with Reuters.
She had reason to believe so as any other politician. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned Friday that North Korea may “attack its neighbors” on a morning radio show, considering the country’s “reckless and dangerous” attitude towards international affairs.
“There is the possibility and the risk that North Korea could launch an attack on its neighbours,” Turnbull said on the radio program, as reported by The Daily Mail Australia. “It is a very tense time on the Korean peninsula, extremely tense time.”
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An ex-Pentagon official also warned senate of the threat which could send ripples in the worsening conflict on Tuesday. “We should not kid ourselves here,” Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told the senate on Tuesday.
“A conflict on the peninsula would be unlike anything we have seen in decades. North Korea is not a Syria. It’s not an Iraq. The consequences could be extremely high.”
She also added that North Korea won’t ditch the nukes anytime soon, and that China’s economic pressures on the hermit state is not enough. “Denuclearization is unlikely at this point, at least in the near term and at least under this regime,” Magsamen was quoted as saying by the press.
North Korea ironically sought the ASEAN’s assistance to prevent a “nuclear holocaust” due to its mounting conflict with the United States, The Philippine Star reported. The letter, which was dated March 23 and was obtained by AFP only a few days ago, was penned by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
Pyongyang’s former army chief appealed to ASEAN foreign ministers to help diffuse tensions in the Korean peninsula and “give them a proper proposal.” He also criticized the US-South Korean joint military exercises in his letter.
[Featured Image by KRT/AP Video/AP Images]