13 August 2014
Amid the fanfare and preparations for the recent ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Myanmar, North Korea had quietly gone about wooing ASEAN in a trip that would take Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong to five ASEAN countries: Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Singapore. Clearly, Pyongyang’s diplomatic efforts to court ASEAN have kicked up several notches. What are the reasons behind these high-level visits?
First, the flurry of diplomatic visits is a means to “soften” the ground in anticipation Pyongyang’s nuclear program being on the agenda of the ARF.
Pyongyang was put on the defensive in the ARF. On Sunday, its foreign minister defended its nuclear program, saying that “our possession of nuclear weapons is deterrence against war. We have nuclear weapons neither for using against anyone nor threatening anyone.”
Furthermore, in response to a question posed about the possibility of a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and North Korea’s foreign minister, the terse reply from a spokesperson for the US Department of State was: “There is no plan for that. Nor do I anticipate that’s something that would take place.”
… The author is a research analyst with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 13/08/2014