World

Thai PM says ASEAN wants
to help push North Korea
talks

Southeast Asian countries want to help bring North Korea back to denuclearization talks and think a regional security gathering they will host next month can play a role, Thailand's prime minister said Monday.

Abhisit Vejjajiva said senior officials at the South Korea-ASEAN summit were working on a statement to be issued Tuesday that would include "our desire to see peace and security and what the region can offer to do" on North Korea.

"Obviously we want everybody to respect the U.N. resolutions," he told AP Television News on the sidelines of the meeting.

North Korea and five other countries negotiating its nuclear program in the stalled six-party talks will meet for the ASEAN Regional Forum next month. The gathering, scheduled for July 23 in Thailand, will also include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India, Pakistan, Australia, the European Union and others.

Abhisit said "we'll do what we can to make sure the talks resume."

North Korea's underground nuclear test and subsequent short-range missile tests last week have intruded on the summit, which is largely focused on economic issues and to celebrate 20 years of relations. Adding to tensions, South Korean news reports Monday said the North was apparently preparing a long-range missile test.

The North's first nuclear test in 2006 drew condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, which also imposed sanctions. It also launched a rocket in April - widely seen as a test of ballistic missile technology - that drew a rebuke from the U.N., but did not trigger a full resolution.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Abhisit met Sunday and criticized North Korea, saying the country's nuclear test threatens world peace and stability, and harms efforts to prevent atomic proliferation.

The first session of the broader summit was to open later Monday.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also said the leaders would issue a joint statement on North Korea, but said he could not comment on its contents because the wording was still being worked out.

"But in any case, we regret very much that North Korea" did "not respect" its agreement with the six parties as well as the Security Council resolution, he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The Thai leader also said he plans to speak to Myanmar's prime minister over the next two days about the situation of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial in Yangon. Abhisit said he briefly met with Thein Sein on Sunday.

"We want to see Myanmar get back on the roadmap to their transition," he said, referring to the country's "roadmap to democracy" and its planned elections next year.

Suu Kyi is on trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest for sheltering American John W. Yettaw after he swam to her lakeside residence in early May. Her supporters fear the military junta will use the trial to keep her in detention through next year's elections.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand, which currently holds ASEAN's rotating chair.
 

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