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PM urges North Korea to call off rocket launch

Speaking as ASEAN chair, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday appealed to North Korea to permanently postpone a highly criticised planned rocket launch and renewed calls for the hermit kingdom to return to six-party talks.

“It was good that the rocket launch by North Korea was postponed over the past few days and, on this matter, I would like to appeal to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to postpone it forever,” said Hun Sen, referring to a Sunday announcement that the country was delaying the long-range rocket launch for uncited reasons.

“I hope that North Korea will consider this thoroughly, otherwise, the concern is not just for Japan, South Korea and the US but the region as a whole,” he continued.

Hun Sen said he was making the appeal to North Korea, which has enjoyed an unusually warm relationship with Cambodia for decades, after a draft statement on the launch from Foreign Minister Hor Namhong failed to receive a consensus among the bloc.

“Frankly speaking, after almost one week of effort, foreign ministers could not reach an agreement,” said Hun Sen.

“Therefore, on behalf of the ASEAN chair, which is going to expire this month, I would like to appeal to North Korea to be patient and please not to escalate a situation that could be against the resolution of the UN Security Council, and return to renewed six-party talks,” said Hun Sen.

Since the start of its year-long chairmanship, Cambodia has pushed for North Korea to return to the table for nuclear disarmament discussions with South Korea, China, the US, Russia and Japan, which have been stalled since 2009.

Hun Sen also used his speech to urge the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad not to use chemical weapons in its battle against rebel forces that have been closing in on the autocratic leader’s strongholds.

“The Assad regime in Syria must not use chemical weapons and North Korea must not launch the rocket, which will cause disaster in the world,” said Hun Sen.

“These are not toy weapons, they are missiles and it is very dangerous.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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