ASEAN urges North Korea to reign in weapons program
Southeast Asian defense ministers in late October 2017 expressed “grave concern” over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and urged the reclusive country to meet its international obligations and resume communications.
North Korea is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and has ignored all calls, even from its lone major ally, China, to rein in its weapons programs conducted in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in a joint statement, underscored the “need to maintain peace and stability in the region” and called “for the exercise of self-restraint and the resumption of dialogue to de-escalate tensions in the Korean Peninsula.”
They recently met with their counterparts from the Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and United States, and the issues of North Korea, the disputed South China Sea and terrorism topped the agenda.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke with Indo-Asia-Pacific allies about North Korea and the crisis caused by its “reckless” provocations. Mattis’ trip to Asia, which also included stops in Thailand and South Korea, came just weeks before Donald Trump’s first visit to Asia as U.S. president.
In the same statement, the ministers reiterated the importance of “safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea” and called for “self-restraint in the conduct of activities.” (Pictured: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense chiefs, led by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, center, link arms during a brief photo session at the start of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in October 2017.)
They also vowed to work together to combat terrorism as they condemned the attack by the Maute militant group in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.
The Philippines in late October 2017 announced the end of five months of military operations in Marawi after a fierce and unfamiliar urban war that marked the country’s biggest security crisis in years.