Asian envoys press North Korea to deliver on anti-nuclear vows

Singapore: Asia’s top diplomats pressed North Korea on Saturday to turn a pledge to completely dismantle its nuclear arsenal into reality amid concerns that it is proceeding with its programmes. China and Southeast Asian nations faced calls in an annual meeting in Singapore to rapidly conclude an effective nonaggression pact that can help fend off possible clashes in the disputed South China Sea.

Both sides have announced an agreement on an initial draft of a regional “code of conduct” that they regarded as a milestone after 16 years of sporadic talks. Alarm over rising trade protectionism, which Asian governments warn could stymie economic growth, dominated the meetings too, with Japan calling for the swift conclusion of a 16-nation Asian free trade deal that does not include the US.

ASEAN foreign ministers, with counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea, urged the US and North Korea to continue working towards the realisation of lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, reports said.

US’ alarming behaviour

  • North Korea said that the US was acting with ‘alarming’ impatience on denuclearisation, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the need to maintain full sanctions pressure on Pyongyang. The contrasting comments at a security forum in Singapore came after a new UN report showed Pyongyang was continuing with its nuclear and missile programmes and evading sanctions through ship-to-ship oil transfers.

    (With inputs from agencies)