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Politics

ASEAN forum rebukes Pyongyang over missile, nuclear programs

North Korea calls newest UN sanctions an act of terror

MANILA -- Foreign ministers attending a regional forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed "grave concern" over North Korea's nuclear and missile development, the chairman's statement released Tuesday shows.

A similar statement from last year's ASEAN Regional Forum simply noted "shared concern" over North Korea. This year's meeting, which ended here Tuesday, was attended by foreign ministers and other representatives from 27 countries. The Philippines holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN this year, and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano served as chairman of the forum.

The chairman's statement also urged Pyongyang to "immediately comply fully with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions." The problems brewing in the Korean Peninsula continue to be a matter of international interest, Cayetano said in a news conference.

The ASEAN Regional Forum is one of the few multinational gatherings in which North Korea participates. Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. State Department, had counted on a "general chorus of condemnation" directed at the regime during that gathering.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang lambasted tough new sanctions adopted over the weekend by the U.N. Security Council as an act of terror. The regime threatened "strategic" and "physical" actions against the U.S., which spearheaded the sanctions.

Ri Yong Ho, North Korea's foreign minister, maintained Monday that the nuclear issue is entirely between Pyongyang and Washington, hinting that the hermit state will continue to press on with its nuclear development while viewing the U.S. as the only negotiating partner.

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