Philippines to discuss North Korea with ASEAN foreign ministers
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano will meet his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Friday (ASEAN) night to decide on the North Korea issue which will be tackled in security forum on Monday.
“What I can do after the dinner tonight in a huddle is to consult the other members. It would be more prudent to consult the other members,” Cayetano said in an ambush interview earlier in the day.
“I predict there will be two sides to it. One of them will say it’s time to make a stand that if they continue they can not engage us this way. But the others will say but how can we engage if this is the only forum that they attend and then they will not be allowed to come and speak,” Cayetano said. “It’s a very hard decision.”
President Rodrigo Duterte asked Cayetano to act as peacemaker on the North Korean issue.
Cayetano, who leads the ASEAN ministerial talks in Manila this week, said Duterte’s instruction was to “explore a peacemaking role” with North Korea to try to find a way “to start getting them to talk.”
Cayetano said the Philippines is ready to engage North Korea in any forum or existing mechanism. But he cited Pyongyang’s continued defiance to cease its missile testing.
“North Korea does not want to stop so there seems to be no opening for peacemaking or for talks,” he said.
Instability in the Korean Peninsula has worried the Philippines due toFilipino workers in South Korea which number at least 57,000.
An escalation of conflict could affect around 200,000 Filipinos in Japan.
“This testing of missiles does nothing but destabilize the region and also creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to resuming the talks and also it courts accidents that can happen,” Cayetano said. DMS