ASEAN welcomes North Korea’s plan to join nonaggression treaty

The Associated Press , Manila | Wed, 07/16/2008 8:00 PM | World

Southeast Asian foreign ministers meeting this weekend will welcome North Korea’s plan to join a regional nonaggression treaty, according to a copy of a draft statement seen Wednesday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ foreign ministers also will express hope that remaining difficulties in the final phase of disarmament talks can be overcome to rid the secretive nation of its nuclear weapons, the document said.

The ministers are scheduled to tackle North Korea’s accession to the regional bloc’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation at their annual meeting Sunday and Monday in Singapore.

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has long been a source of deep concern for ASEAN, which has repeatedly called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The treaty, signed in 1976, requires signatories to renounce the use or threat of force and calls for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Aside from the 10 ASEAN members, 11 countries outside the regional bloc have signed on to the pact.

ASEAN foreign ministers welcome North Korea’s “impending accession” to the treaty “as a strong signal of the DPRK’s commitment to the peace and security of the region,” said a copy of the draft statement to be issued by the ministers at the end of their meeting.

The copy of the ASEAN ministerial statement was seen by The Associated Press on Wednesday. DPRK refers to North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The foreign ministers would urge the six nations involved in talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons to “intensify communication, coordination and overcome difficulties to work out a … mutually acceptable solution.”

During talks in Beijing last week, North Korea agreed to disable its main reactor by the end of October and allow international inspectors to verify its nuclear disarmament.

In exchange, the United States, China and three other countries promised to complete deliveries of fuel oil and other economic aid to Pyongyang.

The agreement, though not yet complete, signals the start of the final phase of years of on-again, off-again negotiations to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Beyond the October deadline for disabling the main nuclear facility at Yongbyon, the agreement did not set a timetable for full disarmament. But U.S. President George W. Bush is believed to be eager to see North Korea disarmed before he leaves office in January.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Monday that it is “entirely possible” that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could have side meetings with countries involved in talks to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs when she attends the ASEAN Regional Forum, which follows the ministerial meeting in Singapore.

The participants at the disarmament talks — the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the United States — belong to the ARF, Asia’s largest security forum.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (****)

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1 Comment

  1. Dear mate….

    I think this is a good news for ASEAN and ASIA . We are part of the world need a peace for our life. thanks

    best,

    fernando


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