North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun (right) shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday during a meeting in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
North Korea launched a scathing attack on the US during the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh yesterday, accusing it of being aggressive toward the rogue state over its “peaceful use of nuclear energy”, according to a statement released by its delegates.
“The hostile policy of the US against [North Korea] is rooted in its intention to eliminate the political ideology and system our people have opted for,” the statement reads.
The comments on the document handed out by officials at the Peace Palace yesterday were attributed to North Korea’s foreign minister.
But oddly, that foreign minister was Paek Nam-sun, the former top diplomat of North Korea who died in 2007, and not current foreign minister Pak Ui-chun, who attended the ASEAN meeting.
The comments go on to say that North Korea will press on with its nuclear program.
“[North Korea] will never give up its legitimate sovereign rights to explore and utilise the outer space and to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purpose,” the statement says, referring to North Korea’s controversial launch of a long-range rocket into orbit in April.
The reason for persisting with such a program was because North Korea was faced with a threat of a nuclear strike, according to the long-deceased foreign minister.
“We mean to safeguard our sovereignty from constant nuclear threats from the US.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday encouraged ASEAN to continue its united stance in attempting to bring security to the Korean peninsula.
“Over the past year, we have shown crucial unity in the face of provocations from North Korea. Going forward, it is essential that all of us remain firm and unified in pursuit of the peaceful, verifiable de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” she said in the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, according to a transcript released to journalists.
China, South Korea and Japan had initiated the idea of resuming six-party talks, ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said earlier this week.