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ASEAN urges North Korea to abandon nuclear program

CEBU, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called on North Korea on Sunday to abandon its nuclear weapons program for the sake of regional peace, security and stability.
The ASEAN heads of state expressed this sentiment during the 10th Summit between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea this morning at the Shangri-La's Mactan Island Resort & Spa.
"We have all and we will continue to express our great concern about recent developments in the Korean Peninsula," the President said in her opening statement.
She added that ASEAN, as one voice, would urge North Korea to respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community.
South Korea is an ASEAN dialogue partner, along with China, Japan, Australia, India and New Zealand.
Although North Korea went ahead with its nuclear test, it does not mean that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons. 
Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities should be no reason for any nuclear race in the region, South Korean President Roh-Moo-Hyun said. 
The ASEAN leaders, through President Arroyo, also called on North Korea to work for the resumption of the Sixty-Party Talks to resolve the nuclear issue.
Following Pyongyang's first nuclear test last year, the United Nations (UN) passed Resolution 1695 demanding that North Korea suspend its missile testing activity and return immediately to the suspended Six-Party Talks without precondition.
The ASEAN leaders also expressed support to the UN resolution on non-nuclear proliferation in the region.
The President said that the North Korean nuclear issue should be discussed further during the ASEAN Plus 3 Summit among ASEAN, South Korea, China and Japan later in the afternoon.
Following is the full text of the President's opening statement:
Your Excellency, Pres. Roh Moo Hyun, my fellow leaders in the ASEAN family.  This meeting is called to order on your view and future directions of ASEAN-Korea Cooperation and an exchange of views on regional and international issues.
This is our first formal gathering since former Foreign Minister of Korea, Ban Ki Moon assumed the top United Nations post to the pride of all of East Asia.  We congratulate Pres. Roh and the people of Korea.
In this Summit, we in ASEAN also got the chance to express our solidarity with the Republic of Korea and the Korean people in their efforts to exhaust all peaceful means to keep the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free and our region safe and secure.
Amidst the concern about nuclear proliferation, we in ASEAN have stood firm in our commitment to urge North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.  We have all, and we continue to express our great concern about recent developments in the Korean Peninsula.
I hope that we're all speaking with one voice in urging North Korea once again to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and to work towards the expeditious implementation of UN Security Council Resolution Nos. 1695 and 1718.  I hope also that we are in one voice in urging North Korea to take concrete and effective steps towards the full implementation of the Joint Statement of September 19th of 2005.
And again, I hope that we can all be in one voice in urging North Korea to respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community including abductions' abuse.

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