Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (left) greets Myanmar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin during the reception for the 50th ASEANForeign Ministers Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, south Manila, Philippines, on August 5.
South Korea's foreign minister said on Saturday she was open to rare discussions with her North Korean counterpart at a security forum in the Philippines in a bid to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme. In a front page commentary, the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said North Korea's open flouting of United Nations rules with its missile launches meant that it had to be punished, but sanctions had to be targeted.
The diplomatic olive branch came as the isolated regime faces increasing global pressure following its second intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 28, with the United Nations Security Council set to vote this weekend on new sanctions.
China's territorial disputes in the strategic and potentially oil- and gas-rich waterway with five other governments intensified after it built islands in disputed waters and reportedly started to install a missile defense system on them, alarming rival claimant states, the US and other Western governments.
Pyongyang has carried out 14 missile tests since February this year.
In a statement to the Manila forum on Monday, Pyongyang said it would never place its nuclear program on the negotiating table as long as the United States maintained a hostile policy against the North.
In a midday conclave on Sunday with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha of South Korea, Tillerson hailed in his typically understated fashion the United Nations vote, which could cost North Korea almost $1 billion a year, or about one-third of its foreign earnings.
They also backed efforts to improve relations between the two Koreas and said their 10-nation bloc was ready "to play a constructive role in contributing to peace and stability" on the Korean Peninsula. "This shows our common wish to protect the peace and stability in the South China Sea".
"We have agreed upon and approved the COC framework".
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Wang however said there would be a precondition for the official start of the code of conduct consultations.
Earlier Sunday, China Foreign Minister Wang Yi said ministers had agreed on a three-step process for the development of the Code of Conduct.
He added that the framework "will pave the way for the textural negotiations on the CoC in the coming year".
The White House said the two leaders "affirmed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat" to most countries around the world.
"We look forward to the operationalization of the joint statement on the observance of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea", the foreign ministers pointed out.
Some critics and diplomats told Reuters that China's sudden interest in starting negotiations for the COC after 15 years of delays is meant to buy time to complete its strategic objectives in the South China Sea.
In view of this positive momentum, they reaffirmed their readiness to begin the substantive negotiation on the COC.
Perhaps even more important, President Trump renounced the TPP.
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The interior ministry later confirmed that two people - a woman and a guard - had died and two were policemen injured. He said around 30 people had been injured and casualty numbers were likely to rise. "They are both dead", he added.