Indo-Pacific Diplomats Voice Concern Over N. Korea, S. China Sea
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Indo-Pacific Diplomats Voice Concern Over N. Korea, S. China Sea

Top diplomats from the Indo-Pacific region expressed concerns over tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, but reaffirmed efforts to resolve issues through dialogue during last week’s meeting of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum, according to the chairman’s statement published Monday.

The ASEAN Regional Forum “expressed concerns” over the July 12 launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea, while different views were expressed at the meeting on the root causes of the tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula, the statement said.

“Diplomatic efforts, including the creation of a conducive environment for peaceful dialogue among all concerned parties should remain a priority,” said the statement issued three days after the ARF foreign ministerial meeting ended.

The annual gathering is one of the few multilateral events involving North Korea, and its Ambassador to Indonesia An Kwang Il attended the meeting Friday. Pyongyang last sent its foreign minister to Asia’s largest political and security conference in 2018.

The meeting came two days after North Korea fired what its official Korean Central News Agency said was the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan, the second of its kind following a test on April 13.

The statement said the meeting “reiterated commitment to the full implementation of all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions,” which ban activities by Pyongyang utilizing ballistic missile-related technologies.

On issues related to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, “concerns were expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations, activities (and) serious incidents in the area,” it said.

The meeting “reaffirmed the need to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law.”

ASEAN and China are currently drawing up a code of conduct to help avert confrontation in the region, given that some ASEAN members have overlapping territorial claims with China and Taiwan.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the statement said that the ARF participants are committed to “redouble efforts to mitigate the economic and financial impacts to the ASEAN region, including on issues of energy and food insecurity.”

The ARF comprises the 10 ASEAN countries as well as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, East Timor, the European Union, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the United States.

Source : Kyodo News