North Korea 'under no circumstances' will give up its nuclear weapons

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"We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", the ministers said in the 46-page document.

The ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's unlawful pursuit of a nuclear weapons program and unprecedented ballistic missile activity since previous year, including the launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 4 and July 28, 2017.

North Korean's top diplomat says "under no circumstances" will it put its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles on the negotiating table.

But since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in June previous year, he warmed up his country's relations with Beijing by placing the territorial disputes issue in the back burner.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers said the Arbitral Tribunal's 2016 Award in the Philippines-China arbitration is "final and legally binding by both parties".

Congratulating ASEAN on its 50th Anniversary, the ministers noted the central role ASEAN has played in the development of the Asia-Pacific regional architecture and its contribution to the region's stability and prosperity. "We'll decide what is good for us, we will decide what strategies are good for us because we are a sovereign nation", Cayetano said. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called for a favorable response from Pyongyang to President Moon Jae-in's follow-up measures for his "Berlin vision", while her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho questioned the sincerity of Moon's "offers". The first refers to North Korea's repeated tests of its ballistic missiles, which it claims can now reach most of the USA mainland. The meeting is expected to be attended by 14 other ASEAN dialogue partners, including China, Russia and North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says if the North stops testing missiles for an "extended period", the USA might deem North Korea ready to talk. Many of the ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, are specially concerned about this issue.

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Tillerson says they will discuss security and economic issues and how the group of nations can work together.

In the White House account of a phone call between President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, "the two leaders affirmed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world".

Should those talks occur, they would be the first military-to-military dialogue in three years.

Chinese state media on Monday acknowledged North Korea had to be punished for its missile tests, but criticized the United States for its "arrogance".

Yet despite deeming North Korea a top security threat, the young Trump administration has struggled to find a strategy that differs significantly from what the US has tried in the past. Beijing praised Tillerson for declaring the USA wasn't seeking regime change in North Korea.

Reported byBenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.