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North Korea threatens to quit ASEAN forum

The communist regime has threatened to quit in case its much-criticised missile tests are banned by the regional forum.
None | By Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur
PUBLISHED ON JUL 28, 2006 01:55 PM IST

North Korea warned on Friday it could quit the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Regional Forum if the organisation condemns the communist regime's missile tests, a South Korean official said.

"If ARF strongly imposes contents of a joint statement against the will of some countries without consensus, we will think about whether we will remain" North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun said, according to a South Korean official.

The South Korean official did not elaborate.

Paek spoke at an opening session of the annual forum that also drew his counterparts from 25 countries and the European Union.

North Korea has been a key issue at the conference after it test-launched missiles earlier this month, escalating tensions in a region that had already been grappling with concerns over the North's nuclear programme.

This week's conference brings together all six members of the long-stalled talks on the North Korean nuclear issue -- China, Japan, Koreas, Russia and the United States.

Many had hoped the six-party talks would be revived on the sidelines of the meeting. North Korea has refused to negotiate since November to protest a US crackdown on its alleged financial wrongdoing and indicated  on Thursday it had no intention of dropping its demand for Washington to end the sanctions.

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