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In Manila, North Korea blames United States for nukes

08 August 2017

South Korea and Japan need to communicate more often in the face of missile and nuclear program of Pyongyang, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said.

The United States, Australia and Japan on Monday denounced Beijing's island-building and militarization of the South China Sea, in contrast to the increasingly tepid response from Asean over the festering issue.

The 10 ASEAN countries recognize North Korea diplomatically and North Korea has embassies in eight of them, forming an outlet for the hermit state's money-making activities overseas.

The statement said that some of Asean's 10 foreign ministers expressed concern "on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region".

Wang said that through joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and shown positive progress.

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They agreed that North Korea "poses a grave and growing direct threat" and the two leaders were committed to fully implement the latest round of United Nations sanctions, the White House said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Asean will take a tougher line on North Korea, as advocated by the United States, or stick to its position of calling for calm and adherence to UN Security Council resolutions.

When asked about criticism that the framework does not state the code will be legally binding, Dr Balakrishnan said "it's premature to arrive at those conclusions".

The code framework is an outline for what China and ASEAN call "consultations" on a formal agreement, which could start later this year.

Just over a year ago, Manila was celebrating an unprecedented worldwide ruling in its favour against China in the disputed South China Sea. "So I think that would be the first and strongest signal they could send to us is just stop these missile launches", said the top USA authority, who is also in Manila to participate in the Asean summit.

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The three top diplomats are in Manila to attend annual ASEAN meetings including the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The country has competing claims with China over the Paracel and Spratly archipelago and has had several spats with Beijing over energy concessions.

The statement also called on ASEAN members and China to ensure that a code of conduct they have pledged to develop regarding the South China Sea be "legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with global law".

"Our two sides should adhere to the above useful experience and overcome any new obstacles that arise in the development of our bilateral relations", Wang said.

Also on the sidelines of the meeting, the Philippines was trying to release a statement suggesting it does not want US involvement in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea, a draft copy has shown.

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The Philippines International Convention Centre is the venue for meetings of foreign ministers of ASEAN and partner countries. China also called on the USA and South Korea to exercise restraint and reign in their own military exercises in the region.