1. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha attended the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Manila, the Philippines, on August 7, and exchanged views on regional and global situations, including issues on the Korean Peninsula.
o Among participants in the meeting were foreign ministers from ten ASEAN countries, US Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Japanese Foreign Minister Kono, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Australian Foreign Minister Bishop, Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Mogherini, and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.
※ ARF (27 countries): ten ASEAN countries, the ROK, the US, Japan, China, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, the EU, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, North Korea, Pakistan, East Timor, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka
o A number of participants addressed the North Korean nuclear and missile issue as the most important regional security issue. Besides the issue, participants engaged in in-depth discussions on major security challenges in the region, including the South China Sea issue, terrorism, violent extremism, and cyber security.
2. Minister Kang strongly condemned North Korea’s repeated provocations, and stressed that the international community, including the ARF, should work more closely together to faithfully implement the new Security Council resolution 2371. She also urged North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program as soon as possible and take the path towards peace and prosperity, saying that if North Korea makes the right choice, the ROK government stands ready to offer a brighter future for the North in cooperation with the international community.
o Furthermore, Minister Kang called on North Korea to respond to the ROK government’s Berlin Initiative and proposal to North Korea made July 17, and asked for the ARF member countries’ support and cooperation.
3. Most participants stressed their firm principle of no tolerance for a nuclear North Korea, strongly condemned North Korea’s continued provocations, which increase tensions in the region, and urged North Korea to immediately and fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions. They also expressed support for the ROK government’s efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
4. In addition, a number of participants called for the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, as well as efforts of countries concerned to resolve the South China Sea dispute peacefully. They also took note of the recent agreement between China and ASEAN on the framework for a code of conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea.
5. Minister Kang, as co-chair of the inter-sessional meetings on disaster relief, and non-proliferation and disarmament, among four areas of cooperation for the ARF’s trust-building and preventive diplomacy activities, expressed the ROK government’s commitment to play a leading role in strengthening the ARF’s cooperation in disaster management in the region, as well as responses to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
o At the ARF Foreign Ministers’ meeting, participants decided to create a meeting which exclusively deals with the emerging ICT security threats. Minister Kang welcomed it, and promised that the ROK will also actively participate in the ARF’s efforts to ensure the security of ICTs.
o At the meeting, participants also adopted a “statement on enhancing cooperation to respond to drug-related issues,” and another “statement on cooperation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing,” and agreed to strengthen cooperation to resolve transboundary security issues, including drugs and IUU fishing.
6. The ARF was established in 1994 to promote peace and stability by increasing mutual trust and understanding through dialogue on major political and security issues in the region. The ARF is the largest consultative mechanism on security in the Asia-Pacific, which is pursuing substantive cooperation regarding trust-building and preventive diplomacy in a range of areas, including disaster relief, non-proliferation and disarmament, maritime security, and counter-terrorism and transnational crime.
* unofficial translation