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July 25, 2008

Asean Regional Forum:
N Korea signs Asean non-aggression pact

North Korea signed a non-aggression pact with Southeast Asia on Thursday in what officials and analysts said was a sign it wants to be seen as a more responsible international player, reported AFP.

The signing came a day after unprecedented talks between foreign ministers of North Korea and five other nations involved in long-running negotiations aimed at ending the reclusive communist state's nuclear programmes.

A ceremony to mark its accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) took place after the Asean Regional Forum, Asia's main security dialogue which includes North Korea among its 27 members.

Ri Tong Il, North Korea's foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters that joining the treaty "is a symbol of its willingness to have friendly relations" with ASEAN and of the North's willingness to contribute to regional peace and security.

"The treaty comes as North Korea is seeking to reach out to the outside world," said Kim Sung-Han, a professor at Korea University.

"Through this treaty, it wants to send a signal abroad that it is prepared to act as a responsible member of the international community."

Originally signed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 1976, the treaty has now been acceded to by 15 nations outside the region. South Korea signed previously.

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