Defence ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet in the northern Philippine city of Clark and issued a strong statement against North Korea on Monday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)' Defense ministers are having meeting to discuss regional cooperation on maritime security and to deal with extremism.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)' Defense ministers are having meeting to discuss regional cooperation on maritime security and to deal with extremism. (AFP)

Defence ministers of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed "grave concern" over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes in a joint statement on Monday. 

The group urged the isolated country to meet its international obligations and resume communications.  The Philippines, as chair of ASEAN this year, is hosting the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Clark, Philippines to discuss regional security issues including drug trafficking and maritime conflict.

The defence ministers underscored the "need to maintain peace and stability in the region" and called "for the exercise of self-restraint and the resumption of dialogue to de-escalate tensions in the Korean peninsula."

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the US mainland and has ignored all calls, even from its lone major ally, China, to rein in its weapons programmes which it conducts in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The ministers reiterated the importance of "safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea" and called for "self restraint in the conduct of activities."

They also vowed to work together to combat terrorism as they condemned the attack by the Maute militant group in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

The Philippines on Monday announced the end of five months of military operations in Marawi after a fierce and unfamiliar urban war that marked the country's biggest security crisis in years.

ASEAN dialogue underway

Eight of ASEAN's dialogue partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States are also in attendance.

"The Philippines will push several initiatives during the two-day meeting, including a three-year work program focused on streamlining, synergising, and rationalising ADMM efforts," the Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

ADMM aims to promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defence and security issues, as well as enhancement of transparency and openness among the 10 ASEAN member states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies