ASEAN calls for non-militarization, self-restraint in South China Sea activities

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. File

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. File

The ministers of the 10-member group expressed "grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula" following Pyongyang's ballistic missile launches in July.

Duterte made a state visit to China previous year, and also threatened to sever security cooperation with Beijing's traditional rival, the United States.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said earlier that the ASEAN ministers were divided over a US proposal to remove North Korea from the ASEAN Regional Forum, a 27-member grouping that includes the North, along with its most bitter adversaries - South Korea, the United States and Japan. As an aide to President Roh Moo-hyun, Moon helped craft the so-called "Sunshine Policy", which called for an increase of engagement in the political and economic spheres.

Although it's not an ASEAN member, China can exert its influence on allies like ASEAN member Cambodia to reject any move it deems inimical to its interests. North Korea has yet to respond to the overtures.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing an unnamed government source, Ri told Kang during their meeting Sunday that South Korea's offer of talks "lacked sincerity".

This year, ASEAN also commemorates its 50th anniversary.

A draft communique seen by the AP days before the ministers held their annual meeting in Manila on Saturday failed to mention the sensitive criticisms, which China has opposed to be discussed in multinational forums. However, they're not expected to meet one-on-one.

South Korea's foreign minister said on Saturday she was open to rare discussions with her North Korean counterpart at a security forum in the Philippines in a bid to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme. The leaders of ASEAN countries feel that North Korea's actions could result in a war in the area, which would not be good for ASEAS nations.

The US has long said it would agree to talk only if North Korea agrees to denuclearization - something many analysts believe is unlikely.

Furthermore, he said China and the ASEAN members will continue to cooperate on such "practical maritime efforts, including management and prevention of conflicts among parties through confidence building measures to prevent miscalculations on the ground".

"Sanctions are necessary but in no way the ultimate goal". Wang said the two had "an intensive conversation", and in unusually strong terms, he later urged North Korea to show restraint.

Kang requested that Russian Federation play a constructive role in stopping North Korea from additional provocations and in improving inter-Korean ties, the ministry also said.

Wang told a news conference in Manila that those conditions include non-interference by "outside parties", apparently referring to the United States, which Beijing has frequently accused of meddling in what it says is an Asian dispute that should be resolved only by the countries involved. In a Twitter post, Trump said he was "very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote" on the sanctions.

North Korea has accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.

North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood are banned.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea aimed at pressuring Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.

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