Neither North Korea nor Russia belong to the Southeast Asian state association Asean – but both countries are at the center of political talks at the summit in Cambodia.
The repeated missile launches and the impending threat of a nuclear weapons test by North Korea are causing unrest at the summit of the Southeast Asian community of states ASEAN.
North Korea’s behavior under ruler Kim Jong Un poses a serious threat to the international community that cannot be ignored, said Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. Such provocations should not be tolerated, he stressed at a meeting of the heads of state and government of the ten Asean countries with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Kishida and Yoon plan to meet with US President Joe Biden on Sunday, who is also attending the Asean meeting. The escalation with North Korea should also be a central topic. On Monday, before the start of the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, Biden wants to meet China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office. Biden will look to China for a “constructive role” in dealing with the threat posed by North Korea, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
“North Korea poses a threat not only to the United States, and not only to South Korea and Japan, but also to peace and stability in the entire region,” Sullivan said on the flight to Cambodia with Biden. “And if North Korea continues on this path, it will simply mean further increased US military and security presence in the region.” China has a vested interest in curbing North Korea’s “worst tendencies,” Sullivan said.
Kuleba condemns Russian ‘Hunger Games’
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is also an important topic at the summit in Cambodia. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the ASEAN countries to urge Russia to continue the grain agreement, which expires in a week. “I call on all Asean members to take every possible measure to prevent Russia from playing hunger games with the world,” Kuleba told the press in Phnom Penh.
The agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain was signed in July through the mediation of the UN and Turkey and expires on November 19. Moscow unilaterally suspended the agreement for several days in October and most recently rejected an automatic extension of the agreement to export Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.
No meeting with Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also traveled to Phnom Penh for the ASEAN summit. Kuleba said that he had not asked for a meeting, as is usual in international diplomacy. “There is not a single indication that Russia is serious about negotiations,” said Kuleba. Ukraine is taking part in an ASEAN summit for the first time. However, local media had reported that the ten member countries could not agree that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could address the meeting via video.
The ASEAN currently includes ten countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar. The crisis in former Burma following the military coup of February 2021 is considered another key point of the talks.
Scholz in Southeast Asia
The ASEAN meeting kicks off a series of three summits and important diplomatic meetings in Southeast Asia. The two-day summit of the group of major economic powers (G20), in which Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will also take part, begins on Tuesday in the holiday resort of Nusa Dua in Bali.
Scholz has previously visited Vietnam and Singapore. Ahead of the summit, activists urged greater financial commitments to fight growing world hunger and climate change. The G20 should give new impetus to the negotiations at the COP27 world climate conference in Egypt.
The G20 includes the European Union and the strongest economies of every continent: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the USA.
At the end of the series of summits, the Asia-Pacific Summit (APEC) will take place on Friday and Saturday in the Thai capital Bangkok. Among others, Xi Jinping, US Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron will be arriving. 21 countries around the Pacific are working together in the forum. This includes the USA and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not traveling to any of the three summits.