President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed his openness to make North Korea one of the dialogue partners of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Duterte issued the statement as he welcomed North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho during the celebration of the 50th Asean at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
“Your excellency, welcome. We are very pleased to have you here. Thank you for coming,” Duterte told Ri.
“You know, I always wanted to invite you here…We would be a good dialogue partner,” he added.
In response, the North Korean foreign minister thanked Duterte for inviting him to Asean’s celebration of its golden year.
The Philippines, the current rotating chairman of the 10-member regional bloc, hosted the Asean ministerial meeting and an expanded regional security forum that includes 17 dialogue partners, such as the United States, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, and South Korea.
The US earlier called on the Asean and its partners to downgrade ties with and isolate North Korea.
In a joint statement issued by Asean’s top diplomat, the regional bloc reiterated its “grave concern” over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula due to North Korea’s testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.