Philippines protests against N. Korea rocket launch

Agence France-Presse
After a US diplomat said debris from North Korea's rocket launch will land off the Philippines, the government filed diplomatic protests

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines said on Sunday, April 1, that it had filed diplomatic protests over North Korea’s planned rocket launch with the UN, China, and Southeast Asian nations which hold a summit this week.

A top US diplomat has previously said that debris from the launch are expected to land off the Philippines, an archipelago made up of thousands of islands.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said that Manila’s diplomatic missions at the United Nations and in China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, were asked to lodge the protest with their North Korean counterparts.

Del Rosario said protest letters were also sent to North Korea’s diplomatic posts in members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines is a member, before a meeting of the bloc this week.

The Philippines established diplomatic ties with North Korea in 2000, but Pyongyang has no embassy in Manila and is represented by a non-resident envoy based in Thailand.

“I will look for an opportunity to raise our position in Cambodia at ASEAN,” said del Rosario, referring to the group’s annual summit, a two-day meeting which starts in Cambodia on Tuesday.

He added that the rocket launch was in clear violation of UN resolutions.

Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said last month the rocket launch would impact “in an area roughly between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

He made the comments in a message to Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr, according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Pyongyang announced last month it would launch a rocket between April 12-16 to place a satellite in orbit, sparking alarm in the region.

The United States and other nations say the launch is a disguised ballistic missile test, and would breach a UN ban on North Korean missile launches.

Washington has also said that a launch would breach a February deal, under which Pyongyang had agreed to a partial halt to nuclear activities and an end to missile tests in return for food aid.

The US has since suspended plans to provide food aid.

Del Rosario said the Philippines had already asked the United States to help share intelligence information on the rocket launch, while the militaries of both sides were coordinating to track its path. – Agence France-Presse