ASEAN Forum Fails to Blame N.Korea for Cheonan Sinking

      July 26, 2010 08:41

      The ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi adopted a chairman's statement on Saturday night, a day after the meeting ended, due to wrangling over a portion referring to the March sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan.

      The forum was attended by the foreign ministers of 27 countries, including South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

      In the end the communique merely expressed support for a UN Security Council presidential statement which condemned the attack on the Cheonan but failed to pinpoint the North as the culprit.

      The ARF statement says the foreign ministers "deplore" the sinking and support the UNSC statement's call for a peaceful solution.

      It was another diplomatic disappointment for Seoul, which has met with a brick wall at attempt to persuade the international community to condemn North Korea for the attack. But North Korea is apparently also unhappy because the statement says an "attack... led to the sinking of the Cheonan."

      A senior South Korean government official said while the UNSC presidential statement was unanimous and required wrangling over every detail, the ARF chairman's statement is intended to reflect the views of all members.

      The ARF statement "stressed the need to fully implement the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council."

      During the forum, the U.S. urged members to implement UNSC Resolution 1874, which imposed sanctions on the North in the aftermath of its nuclear test in May 2009. The U.S. is hoping to strengthen the effect of fresh sanctions it imposed on the North over the attack on the Cheonan.

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