ASEAN ministers tackle North Korea, South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) tackled tension in the Korean Peninsula and in the disputed South China Sea during their meeting on Friday, April 28.
"Among the regional and international issues discussed include developments in the Korean Peninsula, the situation in the South China Sea, transnational crimes such as piracy and armed robbery against ships, and violent extremism and terrorism," Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said Friday.
"The foreign ministers exchanged views on further enhancing ASEAN's community building-efforts, maintaining ASEAN centrality, while further deepening ASEAN's relations to its external partners, and regional developments and international issues of common interest and concern," Bolivar also said.
After their meeting on Friday, ASEAN foreign ministers expressed "grave concern over the escalation of tension in the Korean Peninsula."
Tensions have soared in the region in recent weeks in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests and tough rhetoric from Washington on the isolated nation's rogue weapons program.
Bolivar did not entertain questions after he delivered a 5-minute statement on the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting.
The ASEAN foreign ministers held their meeting a day before ASEAN heads of government meet on Saturday, April 29, for the first event of such kind to be hosted by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Philippines is chairing ASEAN this year, and is hoping to conclude a framework Code of Conduct in the South China Sea during its chairmanship.
The last ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held on February 21, chaired by then Philippine foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
During the last ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Yasay said the ministers "expressed grave concern" over the "militarization" of certain areas in the disputed South China Sea.
China reacted by criticizing Yasay's "baffling and regrettable" words. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com