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(LEAD) Leaders to voice concerns over N.K.'s SLBM test at regional summit: source

All Headlines 16:14 September 01, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS reaction by Seoul's foreign ministry in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- A group of 18 nations, mainly in Asia, is discussing ways to express their joint concerns over North Korea's submarine missile test in a statement to be released at next week's regional summit, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

The source said that a strong message against North Korea's nuclear and missile tests is likely to be contained in a chairman's statement when leaders from South Korea and others meet in Laos next Wednesday and Thursday for the East Asia Summit (EAS).

"Like-minded countries are holding prior consultations over the matter," the source said.

A meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum grouping the 10 ASEAN nations plus its eight dialogue partners, including South Korea, the United States, China and Japan.

Last week, North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) flew about 500 kilometers toward Japan, marking the longest flight by such a missile. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called the launch "the greatest success," saying the country has the full capability to carry out a nuclear strike.

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on Friday issued a press statement strongly denouncing North Korea's last four ballistic missile launches, including its SLBM test.

A statement issued in July by the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting showed that the top diplomats expressed concern over recent developments in North Korea and its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches that clearly go against all UNSC resolutions.

North Korea's SLBM test is fueling urgency for U.S. President Barack Obama and other East Asia leaders to discuss the matter when they hold the EAS meeting next week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said Tuesday.

Seoul's foreign ministry said that the international community should create a united front in reaffirming zero tolerance toward Pyongyang's nukes at a time when North Korea could conduct another nuclear test.

"Relevant countries are in close consultations to send a strong message against North Korea's (nuclear and missile programs) at the upcoming summit," Cho June-hyuck, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

The UNSC imposed its toughest sanctions on the North in March over its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in the following month. It also conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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