North Korea appealed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for support in its conflict with the United States, instead the Southeast Asian countries are expected to express grave concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches.
ASEAN is set to release its statement at the end of foreign ministers meeting in Manila on Friday, local time. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho in a rare move wrote to the ASEAN regional bloc's secretary general requesting for the regional bloc's support with its row with the U.S. to prevent what it warned about a possible "nuclear holocaust". But the ASEAN is expected to criticize North Korea for its two atomic weapons tests last year and subsequent launch of ballistic missiles.
The statement is expected to declare that ASEAN is mindful that instability in the Korean Peninsula will have a serious impact in the region and beyond. The ministers will strongly urge North Korea to "fully comply" with UN Security Council resolutions and international laws.
ASEAN despite rejecting Pyongyang appeal for backing will also be expected to strike a more balanced appeal as it is also anticipated to call on "all parties concerned" to stop all provocative actions and to exercise self-restraint to de-escalate the tension and avoid action that may aggravate the situation.
Diplomats in Manila said the other parties refer to the U.S. and regional powers China, Japan, and South Korea - all three being key strategic players in the region.ASEAN will meet again on April 29, Saturday where they are expected to discuss the situation on the Korean peninsula.Pyongyang's foreign minister warned in his letter to the ASEAN that the situation in the Korean Peninsula was "reaching the brink of war" and blamed "Washington's actions". Ri also criticized US-South Korea military exercises.
Tensions rose in the region the past weeks amidst a series of North Korean missile tests and the tough responses from Washington. Washington has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean peninsula in the midst of worrying signs that the North could be preparing for a 6th nuclear test, and U.S. officials have said all options were on the table.
ASEAN members include Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei, some countries are close U.S. allies. The Philippines for one has a defense pact with the U.S. where it is expected to support Washington in the event of war.