ASEAN, EU urge 'restraint' in Korean crisis
The nations of Southeast Asia and the European Union Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over rising tensions in the Korean peninsula and called on both sides to exercise restraint.
"The ministers reiterated their deep concern over the rising tension following the sinking of the Cheonan and the recent publication of the findings of an investigation conducted by the Republic of Korea" and other countries, the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said in a joint statement.
"The ministers called on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and to step up efforts to promote lasting peace and security on the Korean peninsula."
Foreign ministers and senior officials of the two regional groupings made the statement at the end of a one-day annual conference in Madrid that discussed a range of issues.
After a weeks-long multinational probe into the sinking of a South Korean corvette on March 26, investigators have said they found overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine was to blame.
The findings into the attack which killed 46 sailors sparked strong international condemnation of the hardline communist state.
The South on Monday announced a package of reprisals, including a halt to most trade and a resumption of the loudspeaker broadcasts suspended six years ago.
It is also mounting a diplomatic drive to punish the North through the United Nations Security Council.
The EU and ASEAN ministers Wednesday "stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region as well as the importance of the international non-proliferation regime.
"They urged (North Korea) to comply fully with the (UN Security Council) resolutions and decisions and to refrain from actions which would exacerbate the situation and recalled that (North Korea) cannot have the status of the nuclear state in accordance with" the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
"The ministers reiterated their support for the six-party talks as the best means to achieve denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner."
North Korea last year stormed out of six-nation talks in which it had agreed to end its nuclear program in return for security guarantees and aid.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
© 2010 AFP