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N Korea at crossroads

ASEAN forum switches tone on North Korea and South China Sea

Members ease pressure on Pyongyang and welcome commitment to denuclearization

Foreign ministers attend the Asean Regional Forum Retreat Session in Singapore on August 4.    © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- A regional security forum wrapped up here on Saturday with two major changes from a year ago: Pressure to give up its nuclear arms eased on North Korea, and a bloc of Southeast Asian nations and China took a big step toward resolving their South China Sea disputes.

"The tone was far more constructive, far more positive this year," Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said at the closing press conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.

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