MANILA, Aug 8 — North Korea is staying as participating country in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) despite calls to oust DPRK from the Forum because of its nuclear program.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a press briefing Tuesday that “there is no mechanism to remove someone from the dialogue at this point in time.”
This is despite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stressed Monday that it will not put its nuclear program on negotiations.
Cayetano said he had bilateral meeting with DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho wherein he conveyed the resolution of the ministers on the Korean peninsula issue.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ chair mentioned to Ri that ASEAN wants to play a productive role in ensuring stability in the region, particularly with the situation in the Korean peninsula, but noted that DPRK should give indications that it is opening its doors for dialogue.
During their discussion, Cayetano said Ri pointed out that North Korea is “a friendly nation to ASEAN”, but stressed that the Korean peninsula situation is complex.
“In a sense, it’s not only a complex situation, it’s also very complex how to answer it. The goal is simple — get them to denuclearize peacefully. But what if they don’t? So that’s a big question to all of us,” the DFA chief noted.
“We wanted North Korea or the DPRK to know that they were welcomed to the ARF because it’s a venue for dialogue,” he pointed out.
In one of the discussions at the ARF Ministerial Meeting, Cayetano said China and some of the participating countries mentioned to also look into DPRK’s security measure and come up with a peace deal with North Korea if the Forum is willing to persevere and work on the issue in the Korean peninsula.
However, Cayetano mentioned that it was a deadlock for ASEAN to be a peacemaker at this time as North Korea refused to put into the negotiating table its nuclear program.
“But the problem is… the deadlock with North Korea refusing to give any opening,” the Philippines’ top diplomat noted.
On the other hand, the DFA chief pointed out ASEAN’s stand on the issue.
“We came out with a strong statement to show the world that we are with them. To show the United Nations that we are with them, that we want stability in Korean peninsula,” Cayetano said. (PNA)