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ASEAN to Discuss North Korea Rocket Launch

Apr. 1, 2012 - 01:15PM   |  
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PHNOM PENH — Southeast Asian nations will discuss North Korea’s planned rocket launch at a summit this week, ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan said April 1, after the Philippines lodged diplomatic protests over the matter.

“The foreign ministers are taking up that issue tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he told reporters in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where officials are preparing for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“I think we are all very concerned that any instability in the peninsula will lead to further possibility potential for (an) arms race, for nuclearization of the region, which will not be good for the region as a whole,” Surin told reporters when asked about ASEAN’s position on the launch.

“And it will certainly affect trade confidence, investment in the region, including in ASEAN,” he added.

Pyongyang announced last month it would launch a rocket between April 12-16 to place a satellite in orbit, sparking alarm in the region.

The United States and other nations say the planned launch is a disguised ballistic missile test, and would breach a U.N. ban on North Korean missile launches.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said earlier on Sunday his country had filed diplomatic protests about the launch to Pyongyang representatives at the U.N., in China, and in fellow ASEAN member states.

Del Rosario also said he intends the raise his country’s stance on the launch at the annual ASEAN summit, a two-day meeting which starts in Phnom Penh on April 3, though foreign ministers will begin talks early on April 2.

A top U.S. diplomat has previously said that debris from the launch are expected to land off the Philippines, an archipelago made up of thousands of islands.

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