February 20, 2018, 12:00 pm
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Asean voices concern on Nokor nuke tests

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) reiterated its grave concern for the nuclear tests and ballistic missile development of North Korea as it strongly urged Pyongyang to comply with pertinent United Nations agreements.

The Chairman’s Statement, which was released yesterday, said the nuclear tests and ballistic missile development do not augur well for the region and beyond.

“We expressed grave concern over the recent provocative and threatening actions, including the nuclear tests, by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on September 3, 2017 and its ballistic missile tests over the past year, which are in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement said.

“Noting that these developments seriously threaten peace and stability in the entire region and beyond, we strongly urge the DPRK to fully and immediately comply with its obligations arising from all relevant UNSEC resolutions,” it added.

The 10-member regional bloc reiterated its support for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula “in a peaceful manner” as it called on all parties to exercise self-restraint.

The group also called for the resumption of dialogue to de-escalate tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability.

The Asean also discussed the problem in Myanmar’s Rakhine state though it did not mention the Rohingya minority, who accused the government of persecution. The statement said “a number of leaders expressed support to Myanmar’s humanitarian relief program and welcomed the launch of the Myanmar government-led mechanism in cooperation with the Red Cross Movement and the assistance from the international community.”

The group also said “welcomed the commitment by Myanmar authorities to ensure the safety of civilians, take immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, restore normal socioeconomic conditions, and address the refugee problem through verification process.”

Likewise, it voiced support for Myanmar’s “efforts to bring peace, stability, rule of law and to promote harmony and reconciliation between the various communities, as well as sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State.”

It will be recalled that several members of Asean, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, voiced concern over the crackdown by Myanmar’s military last August in the wake of attacks carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), though the regional bloc has a policy of non-interference.

The Rohingyas practiced Islam, the same as Indonesia and Malaysia.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has raised his “deep concern” on the plight of the Rohingya when he met with Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi early this week in Manila.

Last September, Guterres said what is happening in the area can best be described as ethnic cleansing though Myanmar’s authorities denied it.

Suu Kyi has been silent on the issue for many months, earning her criticism from supporters and human rights group who said she failed to live up to the ideals of being a Nobel Prize laureate.  – Ashzel Hachero
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