MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are “extremely worried” over the evolving crisis brought about by the latest launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea and asked for prudence on the part of the United States and other stakeholders to spare ASEAN of the consequences of a possible showdown in the Korean Peninsula.
“The countries of ASEAN are extremely worried. There seems to be two countries playing with their toys, and those toys are not really to entertain,” Duterte said during a press conference after the closing of the 30th ASEAN Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
“Everybody is worried, nobody is clapping his hand,” he said.
The President said that if war breaks out in the Korean Peninsula, nobody can project what would happen.
“Whether China will just stand idly or hold its hands; or Russia, China would come to the rescue and Britain, France, America and the rest, Japan could also join the melee … If one miscalculation of a missile, whether or not a nuclear warhead or just an ordinary dumb bomb, one explosion there that would hit somebody could cause a catastrophe. It would really mean the first victim would be Asia and Southeast –the whole of the ASEAN countries and the rest,” Duterte said.
To avert such scenario, Duterte said that all stakeholders in the Korean crisis should exercise caution, “including those who would give the advice to the two power players.”
He also said that while the US and North Korea had nuclear warheads, “it behooves upon America who has the biggest stick” and ‘the more responsible country to be prudent and patient” with North Korea President Kim Jong Un to avert a possible nuclear war.
“We know that we are playing with somebody who relishes letting go his missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his mind because I really don’t know what’s inside, but he’s putting Mother Earth, the planet to an edge,” he said.
“It behooves, as I said, America because it’s a more responsible country and I’m sure President (Donald) Trump by now must be also have been, is cautioning his military to just maybe hang on there, not to start something which they cannot control,” Duterte said.
Duterte said that since he was expecting a call from Trump Saturday evening, he would relay the regional association’s concern and ask him to consider a more peaceful option.
“So I’m expecting a call actually from President Trump tonight and who I am to say that ‘you should stop,’ but I would say, ‘Mr. President, please see to it there is no war because my region will suffer immensely.’ The first fallout would be us in Asia,” Duterte said.
He hinted that the issue on the Korean Peninsula crisis may also be part of the Chairman’s statement that will be released later.
“So we will have a communique, a statement about the situation in the Korean Peninsula. It may be part of my Chairman’s statement. I said I will release it tonight,” the President said.
“You like war? Nobody wants it,” Duterte said.