US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Asia’s biggest security community yesterday to keep the pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program and enforce UN sanctions against the reclusive state.
Reining in North Korea’s nuclear program, counterterrorism cooperation and maritime security took center stage at Asia’s premier annual security gathering, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Myanmar was also in the spotlight after Clinton on Wednesday said Washington was concerned about the possible transfer of nuclear technology from North Korea to the military junta.
“The United States will continue to work through every avenue to persuade North Korea to eliminate its nuclear program and normalize relations with the world,” Clinton said in a speech planned for delivery at the meeting.
“The ASEAN Regional Forum can play an important role in achieving this outcome and for continuing to work vigorously to implement Resolution 1874. That means denying North Korean vessels access to any transshipment points and cooperating with the enforcement of financial sanctions against those designated entities that support North Korea’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.
North Korea, condemned for recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests, sent low-ranking officials to Phuket. The head of North Korea’s delegation, ambassador-at-large Pak Kun-gwang, has made little comment but said he did not want Pyongyang to be a punching bag at the security talks.
Clinton also planned to deliver a separate statement giving Pyongyang a choice between more sanctions if it refuses to end its nuclear activities and an array of benefits if it does.