ASEAN wants dialogue with N. Korea to ensure stability in Korean Peninsula

MANILA — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) wants to engage North Korea in a dialogue to ensure stability in the Korean Peninsula.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) acting spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the ASEAN seeks to promote a conducive environment in deescalating tensions in the region.

It considers North Korea as an important partner in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) amid calls for its diplomatic isolation by the United States to urge them to end its missile tests and abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“The ASEAN wants to promote a conducive environment for dialogue to deescalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The ARF is only the forum outside the UN (United Nations) wherein relevant parties could have a discussion on the issue. We hope that the forum could serve as an avenue to conduct talks to ensure stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Bolivar said in a press briefing held Saturday at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.

The foreign affairs spokesperson said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) only participated in the ARF and not in other ASEAN related meetings.

“The ARF is a forum. I know there are criteria what countries can be admitted in the forum but I personally have yet to see any hard and fast rules to say that this country should exit. But if DPRK wants to exit that is their prerogative. ARF operates on a consensus basis we need to get everyone on board on any decision that we make,” according to Bolivar.

The ASEAN Regional Forum is a formal, official, multilateral, dialogue in the Asia Pacific region. It consists of twenty-seven participants namely the ASEAN member states, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, East Timor, the United States, and Sri Lanka.

The ASEAN foreign ministers have reiterated their serious concern over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula due to its recent missile testing.

In its statement, the ministers urged North Korea to exercise self-restraint and called for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“We reiterate our support for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, call for the exercise of self-restraint, and underscore the importance of creating conditions conducive for dialogue to deescalate tensions. We support initiatives to improve inter-Korean relations towards establishing permanent peace in the Korean Peninsula. ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in contributing to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” according to the foreign ministers. ABP/