ASEAN is calling on North Korea to ‘exercise self-restraint’ and stop its missile tests that threaten the region’s peace and stability.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have overshadowed discussions at the annual Association of South-East Asian Nations ministerial meetings in Manila, which were being held on Saturday as the regional bloc was to mark its 50th founding anniversary.

The ministers of the 10-member group expressed ‘grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula’ following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches in July.

‘These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world,’ the ministers said in a statement.

‘We strongly urge (North Korea) to immediately comply fully with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

‘We reiterate our support for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, call for the exercise of self-restraint and underscore the importance of creating conditions conducive for dialogue to de-escalate tensions,’ they added.

The issue was also likely to top the agenda when ASEAN ministers meet with their dialogue partners, including the United States, Japan, China and Russia for Asia’s largest security forum on Monday.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was expected to galvanise condemnation of North Korea and call for a ‘serious discussion’ on suspending the country from the ASEAN Regional Forum as part of efforts to further isolate Pyongyang.

In their statement, the ASEAN ministers did not address the possible US proposal for excluding North Korea from the ARF but called on Pyongyang to ‘positively contribute’ to realising the forum’s vision of maintaining Asia and the Pacific ‘as a region of lasting peace, stability, friendship and prosperity’.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

DPA | Skynews

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