Japan and five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are joining forces to maintain and enforce U.N. economic sanctions against North Korea to compel it to achieve complete denuclearization as promised.
The countries’ top diplomats made the pledge on Friday.
The allies’ agreement came amid the rising concern that nations friendly to Kim Jong Un’s state such as China will soon ease the sanctions, that in turn can threaten to erode the efforts of the international community to stop Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The allies’ talks were held in Singapore. Some Mekong countries informed Foreign Minister Taro Kono that it is crucial at this point to maintain the U.N. economic sanctions on North Korea.
Incidentally, according to a diplomatic source involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN}, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho called for the easing of international sanctions on his country earlier that day.
Ri, who Singapore, asked at a bilateral meeting with another country why U.N. sanctions have not yet been removed against their country despite “much progress” being made on the North’s nuclear issue.
All ASEAN members happen to have diplomatic relations with North Korea, while Japan does not.
This statement comes as a United Nations report on Friday says North Korea's government is continuing its ballistic missile program as well as its nuclear weapons development.
According to Reuters, the report says: “North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018.”
A Japan official also revealed that Japan and the Mekong nations agreed to hold a two-day summit in Tokyo from October 8.
The countries also agreed to promote cooperation in the field of infrastructure development, human resources development and education promotion in line with a new strategy for cooperation.