WRAPUP 9-US, others at APEC summit condemn North Korean missile test

Reuters | Updated: 19-11-2022 00:29 IST | Created: 19-11-2022 00:29 IST
WRAPUP 9-US, others at APEC summit condemn North Korean missile test

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called an emergency gathering of several allies on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit on Friday, emerging with leaders of five other nations to condemn North Korea after it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States. North Korea carried out the missile test just hours before the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum opened in Bangkok and Harris met to discuss it with leaders from Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and New Zealand.

"This conduct by North Korea most recently is a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions," Harris said. "It destabilises security in the region, and unnecessarily raises tensions." A senior U.S. administration official said the weapon tested on Friday was a "longer range missile ... that can hit many, many countries" and said the United Nations security council should meet to discuss North Korea's latest launches.

The official said Washington was in regular contact with China, which along with Russia has blocked recent U.S. efforts to strengthen U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its missile tests. "We do think that Beijing has a role to play," the official said.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the launch and called on Pyongyang to immediately desist from taking any further provocative actions, a spokesperson for Guterres said. White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby told a briefing in Washington that North Korea learned from every launch "and that's concerning."

While reiterating Washington's offer to resume dialogue with North Korea without preconditions, Kirby said the United States was working very hard with allies Japan and South Korea "to make sure that we have in place adequate defensive capabilities." Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned of further missile launches by North Korea and a possible resumption of its nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

Friday's launch came U.S. President Joe Biden met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday and said Beijing has an obligation to try to talk North Korea out of resuming nuclear testing, while adding that it was unclear whether China would be able to sway Pyongyang. Separately, police in Bangkok fired rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protesters as APEC host Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha opened the conference.

Prayuth urged summit participants to seek sustainable growth and development after economic and social challenges from COVID, climate change and geopolitical rivalries. "We can no longer live like we did. We need to adjust our perspective, ways of life and ways of doing business," he told an audience that included Harris and Xi.

Set up to promote economic integration, APEC groups 21 countries that account for 38% of the global population, and 62% of gross domestic product and 48% of trade. Prayuth did not refer to North Korea's missile, which Japanese officials said landed just 200 km (130 miles) off Japan and had sufficient range to reach the United States mainland.

The APEC gathering is the third summit in the region in the past week. A Southeast Asian summit that included China, Japan and the United States was held in Cambodia while the Group of 20 (G20) nations met on the Indonesian island of Bali. The earlier meetings were dominated by the war in Ukraine as well as tensions over Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.

Campaigners are keen to see leaders address food insecurity, surging inflation, climate change and human rights. A reminder of grassroots demands came as Thai pro-democracy protesters clashed with police about 10 km (6 miles) from the central Bangkok summit venue.

Videos on social media showed protesters trying to overturn a police car, throwing projectiles and charging at police, while officers in riot gear beat them back with batons. An official in charge of summit security said police fired rubber bullets to disperse about 350 anti-government protesters. Police said they arrested 10 people.

'REFORM DNA' French President Emmanuel Macron urged APEC leaders to re-embrace international rules and multilateralism for global peace and stability.

Russia's war in Ukraine was "an aggression against international rules", he said, and countries should address inequality and instability. "We have to reform the DNA of our economies. All have accepted capitalism and trade but we have to make it more inclusive and sustainable," he said.

At the G20 in Indonesia, countries unanimously adopted a declaration saying most members condemned the Ukraine war, but that also acknowledged that some saw the conflict differently. A joint statement from APEC ministers said some members condemned the war. "There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions," they said, adding that APEC was not the forum to resolve security issues.

Russia is a member of both G20 and APEC but President Vladimir Putin has stayed away from the summits. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov is representing him at APEC. Xi, warning against Cold War tensions in a region that is a focus for competition between Beijing and Washington, said on Thursday that the Asia-Pacific was no one's backyard and should not become an arena of big-power rivalry,

"No attempt to wage a new Cold War will ever be allowed by the people or by our times," he told a business event linked to the summit. Relations between the world's two largest economies have been strained in recent years over issues like tariffs, Taiwan, intellectual property, the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy and disputes over the South China Sea.

In a move likely to be seen by China as provocative, Harris is to visit the Philippine islands of Palawan on the edge of the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday. She will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island chain, which is adjacent to the Spratly Islands. China has dredged the sea floor to build harbours and airstrips on the Spratlys, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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