ASEAN to discuss N. Korea rocket launch after PH protest

Agence France-Presse

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Southeast Asian nations will discuss North Korea's planned rocket launch at a summit this week after the Philippines lodged diplomatic protests over the matter

Assocition of South East Asian (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers including (L-R) Myanmar's Wunna Maung Lwin, Philippines' Albert del Rosario, Singapore's K. Shanmugam, Thailand's Surapon Tovichakchaikul, Vietnam's Pham Binh Minh, Cambodia's Hor Namhong, Brunei's second Foreign Minister Dato Lim Jock Seng, Indonesia's Marty Natalegawa, Laos' Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysia's Anifah Aman and ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsawan joint hands as they pose prior during the opening of their annual Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on April 2, 2012. Photo by AFP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Southeast Asian nations will discuss North Korea’s planned rocket launch at a summit this week, ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan said Sunday, April1, after the Philippines lodged diplomatic protests over the matter.

“The foreign ministers are taking up that issue tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he told reporters in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where officials are preparing for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“I think we are all very concerned that any instability in the peninsula will lead to further possibility potential for (an) arms race, for nuclearization of the region, which will not be good for the region as a whole,” Surin told reporters when asked about ASEAN’s position on the launch.

“And it will certainly affect trade confidence, investment in the region, including in ASEAN,” he added.

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 planned launch is a disguised ballistic missile test, and would breach a UN ban on North Korean missile launches.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said earlier on Sunday his country had filed diplomatic protests about the launch to Pyongyang representatives at the UN, in China, and in fellow ASEAN member states.

Del Rosario also said he intends the raise his country’s stance on the launch at the annual ASEAN summit, a 2-day meeting which starts in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, though foreign ministers will begin talks early on Monday.

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. – Agence France-Presse

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