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(3rd LD) Park urges ASEAN to show int'l resolve against N.K. nukes through 'words, actions'

All Headlines 22:17 September 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 13-16)
By Song Sang-ho

VIENTIANE, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye revved up her diplomacy Wednesday to thwart North Korea's nuclear ambitions, urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to oppose Pyongyang's saber-rattling through "unequivocal words and actions."

During the South Korea-ASEAN summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, Park highlighted that the communist state's evolving nuclear and missile programs pose a "great" threat to the peace of not only the Korean Peninsula but also the international community as a whole.

"Unequivocal words and actions by ASEAN member states that have maintained certain relations with North Korea will play a crucial role in making Pyongyang recognize the firm resolve of the international community (to oppose its provocative moves)," she said during the summit.

President Park Geun-hye speaks during the South Korea-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on Sept. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

"I call on you to offer your attention and support for the efforts by the international community to denuclearize the North and induce it to change," she said.

Despite international warnings and entreaties, Pyongyang has continued to engage in provocative acts, including its launch of three mid-range ballistic missiles Monday and a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile last month.

For its latest missile provocations, the U.N. Security Council adopted a press statement that strongly condemned the missile launches and called them a "grave violation" of related U.N. resolutions.

During the two-way summit, Park also touched on the South China Sea dispute, calling on the concerned parties to settle their maritime disputes through "peaceful and creative diplomatic efforts."

"We (South Korea) have been keeping a consistent position that the South China Sea disputes should be peacefully resolved through related agreements, non-militarization commitments and the internationally established code of conduct," she said.

Seoul has been cautious not to step into the increasingly sensitive spats over territorial issues. But calls have been increasing for Seoul to play a role in protecting sea lanes of communication on the high seas as its export-reliant economy is heavily dependent on maritime trading routes.

Park also used the summit with ASEAN leaders to stress the need for greater trade liberalization between the two sides under a bilateral free trade pact that took effect in 2007.

ASEAN is South Korea's second-largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching $119 billion last year.

The president then called on ASEAN to accelerate negotiations over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mooted free trade deal involving 16 nations, including South Korea, China and Japan.

Following the bilateral summit, Park attended the ASEAN-plus-three summit that also includes the leaders of China and Japan. She again used the meeting to highlight the gravity of the North's security threats.

Park said that aside from the serious threats from Pyongyang's "reckless" provocations, its nuclear program could lead to safety accidents and environmental damages, and that its missile launches without prior notice could endanger the safety of aircraft and ships.

The president, in addition, called for "international unity and firm resolve" against the North's nuclear program.

On the issue of ASEAN's integration, Park emphasized the need to strengthen a joint mechanism to cope with financial, food-related and environmental challenges. She also pledged to continue to support ASEAN countries through various programs, including vocational education.

During her opening remarks at the South Korea-ASEAN summit, Park called on ASEAN to further solidify robust ties with South Korea through a concrete vision for bilateral cooperation.

The chief executive pointed out that the two-way partnership has deepened as both sides have worked together to tide over shared challenges.

"I hope that this summit today can serve as an opportunity to solidify our mutual will to cooperate by checking the progress made through bilateral cooperation and fleshing out our vision for the future," she said.

Park also traced the history of the two sides working together to overcome global challenges.

"In times of global crises, South Korea and ASEAN further deepened the level of cooperation and further developed their relationship," she pointed out.

"Right after Asia's financial crisis, the two sides held their first South Korea-ASEAN summit (in 1997). After the 2008 global financial crisis, the signing process of a bilateral free trade agreement was completed, and then, they forged a strategic partnership in 2010," she explained.

Touching on the increasingly complex nature of global challenges, Park called for multilateral cooperation.

"Crisis situations we face now are different from those of the past. They are global and happen simultaneously," she said. "Thus, responses through international cooperation are more important than anything else."

Park is currently in Laos, the third and last leg of her eight-day trip that also took her to Russia and China. She is to return home on Friday.

President Park Geun-hye (5th from L) and the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pose for a photo during the South Korea-ASEAN summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on Sept. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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