Participants in this year's Ministerial Meeting of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, adopted a statement expressing concern over North Korea's test firing of missiles in July. Such tests "could affect peace and stability in the region," their joint communique read. The ASEAN statement was just the latest expression of concern by an international body over North Korea's missile tests. Following those tests, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution Sixteen-Ninety-Five, which condemned North Korea for conducting the tests and demanding that it suspend all such activities.
The thirteenth annual ASEAN Regional Forum, or A-R-F, was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, immediately following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. This meeting brought together the ten ASEAN member countries - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Burma - with representatives of the European Union and 15 other countries, including the United States. Security in northeast Asia, particularly in connection with North Korea's nuclear program, was a key topic of discussion.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who attended the A-R-F, said there should be a "robust dialogue on northeast Asian security." While conditions in northeast Asia are generally peaceful, Ms. Rice said, there is a need "to deal with security problems that are currently bedeviling the region, most especially concerns about," North Korea's nuclear programs. North Korea's test launching of seven ballistic missiles, she said, was a violation of its self-imposed moratorium on missile tests and "a dangerous act."
The United States is willing to talk with the North Korean government about its programs for weapons of mass destruction, said Ms. Rice, but only within the framework of the six-party talks that also include South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. North has refused to participate in those talks since 2005.
"The United States remains ready at any time, at any place and without any conditions to engage in those discussions in the six-party talks," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
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