South Korea’s foreign minister on Sunday urged the international community to send more clear and stern messages to North Korea to convince it to end its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se made the appeal at a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia’s biggest annual security conference, which brought together top diplomats from 26 Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union.
“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile developments pose threats to world peace and security and serve as a pointed challenge to the global nonproliferation regime,” Yun was quoted as saying by officials at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.
North Korea has ratcheted up provocative acts by launching a series of missiles and rockets in recent weeks, snubbing the United Nations Security Council’s fresh condemnation against it. Earlier this week, it even threatened to conduct a fourth nuclear test, citing what it called U.S. hostility.
|Foreign ministers join hands for a photocall during a ceremony to launch the logo for the ASEAN Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercises at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw on Sunday. (Yonhap)|
“It is urgent to resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue as it is the gravest threat to security in the (Northeast Asian) region,” he added.
The remark came on the same day that the top diplomats of North Korea and China held a rare meeting in Myanmar, where they discussed bilateral relations and “issues of common concern.”
The meeting between North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, took place on the sidelines of the regional security dialogue in the Myanmar capital of Naypyitaw, the Chinese ministry said in a brief statement posted on its website late Sunday.
The one-sentence statement stopped short of giving details of the meeting between Ri and Wang, saying the two sides held “an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern.”
The Sunday talks came as China, North Korea’s last remaining patron, is stepping up its role in addressing the North’s nuclear challenge.
Early last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Korea, becoming the first sitting Chinese leader in more than two decades to visit Seoul before traveling to Pyongyang. Traditionally, top Chinese leaders visit Pyongyang before Seoul.
In response, the participants in the ARF meeting also expressed concerns about North Korea’s recent missile launches, calling on Pyongyang to abide by its obligations related to U.N. Security Council resolutions and give up its nuke programs, according to Seoul officials.
“Most foreign ministers strongly blamed North Korea for posing a nuclear threat and strengthening new kinds of provocations by firing off missiles and rockets,” said a senior official at the Foreign Ministry, asking not to be named.
A majority of the participants shared the view that security jitters in Northeast Asia stem from North Korea, he added.
Ri, meanwhile, insisted that the North’s nuclear weapons program exists as a “deterrence” against the U.S., and vowed to strengthen the country’s nuclear capabilities.
Other major topics at the meeting included territorial disputes in the South China Sea and concerns over safety of civilian planes following the downing of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine, they added.
The ARF brought together foreign ministers and key officials of all the countries participating in the six-way talks ― the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
(From news reports)