MANILA — The Philippines is studying the possibility of downgrading diplomatic relations with North Korea (NoKor) amid its nuclear issue, but will consult other members on the United States’ intent to suspend NoKor from the upcoming security dialogue, the country’s top diplomat said on Friday.
“We are studying how we can downgrade because we don’t have much engagement with them,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters on the sidelines of a forum on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“We don’t believe in nuclearization, we don’t believe in nuclear weapons. It is in our Constitution,” he added.
The DFA chief noted the Philippines, host of this year’s ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), is in constant communication particularly with Republic of Korea, Japan and the US.
“And we feel as strongly as they feel that this testing of missiles does nothing but destabilize the region and also creates an atmosphere that’s not conducive to resuming the talks. And also it courts accidents that can happen. So as to the specific actions, we are in communication with them,” he said.
Cayetano further said President Rodrigo Duterte instructed him to explore a “peacemaking role” in the North Korean nuclear issue.
“As far as the foreign minister of North Korea coming to the ARF, i think it’s better that people talk. You can talk harshly in front of your colleagues in ASEAN engagements like what we have because we will have retreats, and we will have areas that will be closed door. But the less we talk, the more grave the situation can become,” he said.
Cayetano pointed out the world has been united in supporting the United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions on the actions of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the last few months.
“Well the chairmanship of the ASEAN is a little bit peculiar because it’s a consensus-based organization… But it would be more prudent to consult all of the members and I predict there will be two sides to it,” he added.
Foreign ministers from 27 countries are attending the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings at the Philippine International Convention Center from Aug. 2 to 8.