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July 23, 09

NEWS / United States Concerned About North Korea’s Ties to Burma

Washington There is growing concern that North Korea is establishing military cooperation with Burma, which could destabilize the region, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says.

We know that there are growing concerns about military cooperation between North Korea and Burma, which we take very seriously, Clinton said July 21 at a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu. It would pose a direct threat to Burmas neighbors. And it is something as a treaty ally of Thailand that we are taking very seriously.

North Korea and Burma restored formal relations in 2007 and they are believed to be extensive, according to published news reports.

Clinton was in Thailand to hold consultations with Thai leaders and to attend the 10-nation foreign ministers meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, being held in Phuket. The secretary also signed ASEANs Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which is a peace treaty that calls upon ASEAN members and others who have signed the treaty to resolve regional disputes peacefully. In addition, the United States will become the first non-ASEAN country to establish a diplomatic presence at the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The secretary said she and President Obama believe Southeast Asia is vital to global progress, peace and prosperity, and the United States is fully engaged with ASEAN partners on a wide range of challenges.

I want to send a very clear message that the United States is back, that we are fully engaged and committed to our relationships in Southeast Asia, that we want to resume and strengthen our very strong alliances and friendships, we want new partnerships, and it is an important part of our overall approach to participate in ASEAN, which is an essential organization, co-founded by, among others, Thailand to bring the countries of Southeast Asia together, Clinton said.

But North Koreas nuclear weapons ambitions were expected to dominate talks among the ASEAN foreign ministers through the week.

We do not want to be in another negotiation that doesnt move us toward the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Clinton told reporters. We want verifiable, irreversible steps taken. North Korea must end its nuclear weapons program or face further isolation and international sanctions, she said.

At a July 22 press conference in Phuket, Clinton said the United States had made it clear to the North Korean regime that if it agrees to irreversible denuclearization, the United States and its partners will move forward on a package of incentives and opportunities including normalizing relations.

The United States has been actively engaged in the Six-Party Talks with China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Russia to convince the regime of Kim Jong-Il to abandon its nuclear weapons development program in return for an array of substantial incentives designed to improve North Koreans lives and livelihoods. Concerns over the weapons program are twofold: that it may at some point spur an unintended nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia, and that it could lead North Korea to sell its nuclear technology to rogue regimes and extremist groups.

Clinton held consultations with the other members of the Six-Party Talks on strategy for enforcing the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea, which followed a recent nuclear weapons test and the test-firing of seven ballistic missiles. The Security Council condemned North Koreas actions and unanimously approved additional economic and political sanctions in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874.

The new resolution bans all North Korean arms exports, authorizes U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo and requires them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

Tags: secretary of state,


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