By BetingLaygo Dolor, Editor-in-Chief with GMA News
MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte mayyet play a role in diffusing the tensions between the US and North Korea, whichthreaten to explode into a full blown nuclear war unless a diplomatic solutionis found.
Tensions between North Korea and the US had deterioratedto dangerous levels this week, with the Hermit Kingdom threatening to bomb USterritory Guam. This, after PresidentDonald Trump had vowed “fire and fury like the world has never seen” shouldNorth Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un continue to threaten the US.
Recently approved UN Security Council sanctionswere the toughest yet and are sure to hurt the already fragile North Koreaneconomy, which is heavily dependent on trade with China.
Although China also approved the latest sanctions,North Korea blames the US and its allies Japan and South Korea for their being passedby the UN.
President Duterte on Tuesday, August 8, exchangedpleasantries with North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, shaking hands atthe 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) atthe Philippine International Convention Center.
“We are very pleased to have you here,” Dutertesaid.
Ri, in turn, congratulated the ASEAN, which thePhilippines is chairing this year, on its 50th anniversary.
"We would be a good dialogue partner,"Duterte replied.
Duterte's brief exchange with Ri comes days afterthe Philippine president called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "tarantado" and "buang," referring to the East Asiannation's nuclear threat.
North Korea is not a dialogue partner of the ASEAN,but it is part of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which gathers 27 foreignministers - including those of Russia, Japan, the United States, China andSouth Korea - to discuss security issues.
The US had previously called on the ASEAN todowngrade ties with North Korea, including itsremoval from the ARF. Japan has also called on the ASEAN to apply morepressure on North Korea.
Amid missile fears, North Korea has assuredthat it wouldn'tuse nuclear weapons on any country unless it joins a military action by the US.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, whowas on Duterte's side when he welcomed Ri, said the President welcomed theopportunity to have a dialogue during the ARF.
"What the President told me is that the ARF isa good venue for everyone to dialogue and for us to hear out North Korea andhopefully they will listen. That's what I understand," he told reportersafter his press conference at the ASEAN International Media Center.
Cayetano pointed out that the ASEAN knew that theARF is the lone regional organization or forum where the North Korean ministerattends.
"My understanding is that it was in thatcontext that he welcomed him here... But it was in the sincere hope that theywill only listen and not only speak," he said.
Despite Duterte's remarks to Ri, Cayetano said thePresident would not deviate from the position of the Philippines, the ASEAN,and the United Nations on North Korea's nuclear weapons.
"But as I've said, we are willing to do apeacemaking role," he said.
"It depends on the reaction of the NorthKoreans... They should show the opening that they want peace and they wantnegotiation," Cayetano added.
- Published in Beting Dolor
- Written by Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor-in-Chief with GMA News
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