Asean foreign ministers give Kim warning

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, BRUNEI : Asean foreign ministers have expressed concern over growing tension on the Korean Peninsula and called on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to rein in his aggression.

Surapong: Sanctions will inflame conflict

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Surapong Tovichakchaikul said all 10 Asean countries were prepared to evacuate their citizens from Korea if the situation deteriorates.

The ministers, however, stopped short of offering a channel for negotiations between the two Koreas, he said.

Mr Surapong was speaking after the Asean Foreign Minister's Meeting (AMM) yesterday, a prelude to the 22nd Asean Summit on April 24 and 25.

The meeting discussed concerns about the potential escalation of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

The ministers agreed that Mr Kim Jong-un should refrain from further war-mongering and exercise patience to resolve the situation.

Mr Surapong said Asean host country Brunei had called on Mr Kim to cease his policy of aggression.

Mr Surapong called for the United Nations to try to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. He stressed that if this did not happen, stricter economic sanctions against the communist state would be likely, and this could inflame the situation further.

"Asean foreign ministers will keep a close watch on the situation and Brunei, as the host of the Asean summit this year, says it will issue a statement immediately if the situation on the Korean Peninsula worsens," Mr Surapong said.

About 40,000 Thai citizens work in South Korea.

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Writer: Anucha Charoenpo
Position: Reporter