ASEAN, Japan tackle NoKor, South China Sea

Asean countries willing to have talks with China to avoid clashes

In a front page commentary on Monday, the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said North Korea's open flouting of United Nations rules with its missile launches meant that it had to be punished, but sanctions had to be targeted to avoid hurting ordinary people or other countries.

But Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday.

"There were views that, how can we hear them out or confront them (North Korea) if they're not there?" he told reporters after a late-night discussion with his ASEAN counterparts. He took back the announcement later and said the communique may be made public with other statements on Tuesday.

Ando added Japan is willing to adopt the new resolution from the United Nation's Security Council (UNSC), which imposed strongest sanctions on the isolationist state for its missile tests. Despite that, Pyongyang has continued developing its nuclear and weapons program. This will deprive the isolated state of one-third of its export earnings estimated at US$3 billion (S$4 billion) a year. North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The past six decades have been punctuated by periodic rises in antagonism and rhetoric that have always stopped short of a resumption of active hostilities.

Topping the agenda are North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile tests, an attempt to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a siege by pro-Islamic State group militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which has dragged on for more than two months.

Tillerson's remarks might be an attempt to try another tack by the United States, which also has tried to get Pyongyang's ally China to use its influence to prevent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from building a nuclear arsenal.

"Optimists will see this non-binding agreement as a small step forward, allowing habits of cooperation to develop, despite differences", he said. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working overseas, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

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Kang requested that Russian Federation play a constructive role in stopping North Korea from additional provocations and in improving inter-Korean ties, the ministry also said.

With the US, Japan and South Korea expected to push for stronger actions against the North, a verbal showdown loom.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged "the North Korean side to calmly handle the resolutions".

"Do not violate the UN's decision or provoke the global society's good will by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests", Wang said. North Korea has yet to respond to the overtures.

"The reality is that the United States is now vulnerable to North Korea's nuclear-armed missiles - and has no choice but to live with that reality", nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times Thursday.

The 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers' meeting Sunday evening expressed concerns over China's land reclamation activities and called for non-militarization in the disputed South China Sea.

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