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Japan calls for tough ASEAN stance on N Korea

world Updated: Jul 22, 2009 11:34 IST
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Asia's main security forum was expected to issue a tough statement on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, a senior Japanese official said on Wednesday.

"We should make it clear that the DPRK's ongoing nuclearisation as well as ballistic missile development should never be tolerated," Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone met Wednesday with his Thai counterpart, Kasit Piromya, who is chairing this year's security forum on the Thai island of Phuket, to press for a clear stance against Pyongyang's ongoing nuclear weapons drive.

North Korea, although a member of the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) Regional Forum, is the only country that has refused to send its foreign minister to the meeting.

Instead, Pyongyang has appointed an ambassador to attend Thursday's event.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of the US, which with Japan is part of six-nation talks with North Korea aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programme, has refused to meet with the low-level North Korean delegation.

The forum was expected to endorse a recent UN Security Council resolution that imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea and allows inspections of suspicious cargo ships potentially involved in weapons trafficking. It was also expected to urge Pyongyang to return to the six-nation talks.

Myanmar - another pariah state that is a member of ASEAN and the United Nations - was urged to respect the resolution, which rules out close military cooperation with North Korea.

"We expect Myanmar to also fully comply with the newly adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1874," Kodama said.

Clinton Tuesday raised the spectre of close North Korean-Myanmar military cooperation although there have been no confirmed reports of such a development.

The forum consists of ASEAN's 10 members as well as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua Guinea, Russia, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and the United States.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.