• Asean pushes nuke- free Korea peninsula


    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) reiterated its call to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons as it expressed “grave concern” over North Korea’s missile tests, saying these “seriously threaten peace and stability” in the region.

    In the chairman’s final statement on the recently concluded 31st Asean Summit held in Manila, the group urged North Korea to “fully and immediately” follow the resolutions issued by the United Nations Security Council (UNCS) that call on Pyongyang to cease its nuclear tests.

    “We expressed grave concern over the DPRK’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile technologies, which are in contravention of UNSC resolutions,” the statement read.

    In Washington, US President Donald Trump vowed a global campaign of “maximum pressure” on North Korea, warning Pyongyang will not subject the world to “nuclear blackmail.”

    Fresh from his Asian tour that took him to the Philippines where he attended the Asean summit, Trump said he had successfully galvanized opposition to North Korean proliferation.

    “I made clear that we will not allow this twisted dictatorship to hold the world hostage to nuclear blackmail,” Trump said in a televised statement a day after returning from the marathon trip.

    Tensions between the United States (US) and North Korea worsened after Pyongyang conducted a series of tests of their nuclear weapons in recent weeks in a bid to advance their ultimate goal to develop a missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

    On July 4, North Korea launched its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in an attempt to come up with a powerful weapon that could reach “anywhere in the world.”

    The UNSC adopted in September a new resolution that imposes fresh sanctions on North Korea after the latter carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test.

    The Asean statement said the growing tension between the US and North Korea should be resolved through a “peaceful” approach, thus, appealed that the two nations exercise “self-restraint” and start non-adversarial dialogue.

    “We reiterated our support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and called for the exercise of self-restraint and the resumption of dialogue in order to de-escalate tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability,” it said.

    The group also vowed to remain resolute in their shared commitment to preserve the Southeast Asian region as a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction.

    It welcomed the decision of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) to extend the Plan of Action (POA) on Strengthening the Implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty for five years.

    “We reaffirmed our commitment to continuously engage the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) and intensify the ongoing efforts of all Parties to resolve all outstanding issues in accordance with the objectives and principles of the SEANWFZ Treaty,” it added.

    Grave threat

    Trump on Thursday said he had won a commitment from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to use Beijing’s economic leverage to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

    It was not clear if that went beyond Chinese implementation of existing UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

    Trump also suggested that Xi — who will send a special envoy to Pyongyang later this week — had ditched a proposal to freeze US military maneuvers in exchange for a freeze in North Korean proliferation.

    “President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China,” Trump said. “And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called ‘freeze for freeze’ agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past.”
    China denied Thursday that it has abandoned its long-standing proposal to ease the North Korean nuclear crisis after US President Donald Trump suggested Beijing had agreed to drop the policy.

    Beijing has long campaigned for a “dual track approach” in which the United States would halt military drills in the region while North Korea would freeze its weapons programmes.

    But Trump suggested Wednesday following his five-nation trip to Asia, which included meetings with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, that the Chinese leader had ditched the plan.

    “President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China,” Trump said. “And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called ‘freeze for freeze’ agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past.”
    But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing’s position on the nuclear issue remained “consistent and clear-cut.”

    “We think that under the current circumstances, the suspension for suspension initiative is the most realistic, feasible, fair and reasonable plan,” Geng said.

    “It can not only ease the current tense situation, but also solve the most pressing security concerns for all parties, provide opportunities and create conditions for resuming peace talks and find breakthrough to get out of the stalemate,” he said.

    “We hope all relevant parties can have a earnest approach and give a positive consideration to the good faith of the Chinese side,” Geng said, adding that using military force was “not an option” to resolve the crisis.

    With AFP


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