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ARF Chairman's Statement Expresses 'Grave Concern' on N. Korea

Hot Issues of the Week2017-08-13
ARF Chairman's Statement Expresses 'Grave Concern' on N. Korea

The foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum(ARF) have expressed “grave concern” over North Korea’s missile provocations, calling on the North to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.
The Philippines, which hosted this year’s regional forum, issued the ARF chairman’s statement on Tuesday.
In the statement, top diplomats expressed grave concern over recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, previous ballistic missile launches, and two nuclear tests in 2016 which have resulted in a major escalation of tensions in the region and beyond.
The ministers also reiterated their support for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, and called for the exercise of self-restraint. They underscored the importance of creating conditions conducive for dialogue to ease tensions.
The statement said that some ministers also expressed support for the initiatives to improve inter-Korean relations and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The statement also said that participants' attention was called to two proposals, namely the “double freeze and simultaneous progress” proposed by China and a phase-by-phase plan suggested by Russia, as possible ways to address the situation on the peninsula.
The “double freeze” refers to suspending both North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, as well as large scale joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S.
“Simultaneous progress” calls for denuclearization efforts alongside establishing a peaceful regime on the peninsula.
Even though North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho attended the regional forum, Pyongyang’s claims of its nuclear development due to hostile foreign policies were not reflected in the ARF chairman’s statement.
The ASEAN Regional Forum, launched in 1994, is a multilateral meeting of 27 members that seeks to address regional security issues. It is the only multilateral forum in which North Korea participates.
The statement’s strongly worded comments on North Korea therefore testify to the worsening isolation of the communist regime triggered by its missile provocations.
The statement expressed “grave concern” this year, compared to just “concern” last year.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry called the ARF statement “strong and balanced” and consistent with South Korea’s stance.
North Korea meanwhile blasted the statement as distorting facts and the essence of Korean Peninsula tensions. It said the statement only reflected arguments made by the U.S. and its followers.
But the North’s reaction was coolly received. It’s the first time Pyongyang has been this explicitly isolated at the ARF.

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