ASEAN chair urges NKorea to call off rocket launch
PHNOM PENH – Cambodian Prime Minister and ASEAN chairman Hun Sen urged North Korea Monday to scrap a planned rocket launch, saying it would bring “fear and tension” to the region.
Pyongyang on Monday pushed back the window for the controversial planned launch by a week to December 29, but stressed it was pressing ahead with the mission in the face of international condemnation.
“In the name of the ASEAN chair, I appeal to North Korea to postpone the launch forever,” Hun Sen said in a speech on national radio. “The launch will bring no benefits but only fear in the region and tension.”
The premier said he had “the right to speak out” after foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed over the past week to reach agreement on a draft statement about the launch.
Hun Sen said his Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had been in talks with ASEAN counterparts but they could not reach “a consensus” on Cambodia’s draft. He did not elaborate.
Pyongyang extended the December 10-22 window for the launch by a week due to a “technical deficiency”, the Korean Committee of Space Technology said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea said the rocket launch is a peaceful mission aimed at putting a satellite in orbit.
The United States and its allies viewed it as a disguised ballistic missile test banned under UN resolutions prompted by the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.