Asia's top security forum, involving the two Koreas, the United States and China, has introduced the latest draft statement that calls for a "verifiable denuclearization" of North Korea, expressing "concerns" over the North's policy of confrontation.
The draft statement of the 27-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF), obtained by Yonhap News Agency on Sunday, also showed that North Korea urged the U.S. and other nations to end their "hostile" policy toward Pyongyang.
The ARF forum, hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has served as an important venue for discussions on North Korea because it has brought together foreign ministers of the six nations involved in the long-stalled talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear ambitions.
Among the top diplomats attending the annual forum are South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun.
"The ministers expressed concerns over the developments on the Korean Peninsula," the draft of the forum's chairman statement showed. "The ministers reaffirmed the importance of the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner for the enduring peace and stability in the region."
The statement "urged the DPRK (North Korea) to abide by its obligations under the relevant U.N. Security council resolutions and its commitments" made during the six-party talks in 2005, according to the statement.
In return, North Korea "reaffirmed their invariable will to continue all efforts for enduring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula."
North Korea "also expressed the view that hostile policy" by the U.S. and other nations "is the root cause of the nuclear issue and aggravating tension on the Korean Peninsula."
After months of high tensions triggered by the North's third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the U.S., North Korea has appeared to shift to dialogue in recent weeks.
South Korea and the U.S. have stressed that North Korea must comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions and abide by international obligations before any resumption of meaningful talks can take place.
In Brunei, South Korea is revving up diplomatic efforts to put pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear programs when the two-day ARF begins on Monday.
"We are making diplomatic efforts for the ARF to adopt a chairman's statement supporting our stance that North Korea must show its sincerity on denuclearization through actions, not words," said a senior Seoul delegate on the condition of anonymity.
The 27 ARF members are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, the U.S., Vietnam and the European Union. (Yonhap News)