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Corridor diplomacy on North Korea

Updated On: Jul 14, 2006

The UN resolution drafted by Japan and supported by the USUK and France, calling for sanctions against North Korea, looked unlikely to have the support forChinaRussia and South Korea.

"China thinks the concerned draft resolution is an overreaction. If approved, it will escalate the contradictions and increase tension," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.

Similarly, voicing its public criticism of Japan’s draft, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun accused Japan of "making a fuss" over the missile tests near the Sea of Japan. The current deadlock over the decision of whether to punish North Korea with UN sanctions or rap it using a UN Security Council Presidential Statement after it test-fired seven missiles gives ASEAN’s “corridor diplomacy” a chance to contribute to regional peace.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo believes that the North Korean missile crisis will be discussed on the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting when officials and leaders from the six nations meet in Kuala Lumpur for discussions. Minister Yeo said: "All the foreign ministers of the six countries involved will be there in Kuala Lumpur and I am quite sure they will be consulting with each other along the corridors.” Minister Yeo also reflected ASEAN’s concern for this regional crisis: “It's a very serious issue. It's an issue which can destabilise the region.”

However, he is realistic about the amount of influence that the ASEAN or ARF have on the crisis: “The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) will not be the important forum by itself.” He is clear about the role of Singapore and other ASEAN nations which is to add voices to the chorus of international community pressuring Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table and not to replace or create an alternative for the six-party talks: "Singapore, together with the other ASEAN countries, will weigh in on continuing the six party talks, weigh in on the stability and non-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”

Minister Yeo is also clear that it is the regional superpowers that will make the real difference: “But this play is for the big boys and we can be helpful to the countries who are in favour of peace and stability. That's the approach we take."  

While ASEAN and the ARF will be contributing to the peace process, the main action took place in Pyongyang with talks led by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu andChina's main nuclear negotiator, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.  Unfortunately, no breakthrough had been achieved thus far.

Sources:

ASEAN studying proposal that its leaders meet more than once a year (Channelnewsasia, 11 July 2006)

China labels draft UN resolution on DRPK missile launch overreaction (People’s Daily, 11 July 2006)

SBY to go ahead with Korean visit (Jakarta Post, 11 July 2006)

U.N. vote on N. Korea sanctions delayed (AP, 11 July 2006)