The ASEAN summit is underway in Manila and the U.S. Secretary of State, Tillerson is attending along with the Foreign Ministers of North Korea and South Korea. Both the foreign ministers had a face to face meeting on the sidelines of the conference. The South Korean Yonhap News has reported that South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung, Wha, met with her North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-Ho and discussed bilateral matters. This was in keeping with South Korean President Moon’s avowed aim that he preferred direct talks with North Korea.

The meeting was brief and nothing substantial was achieved, as the viewpoints of both sides look unbridgeable.

The South Korean foreign minister urged the North to have direct military talks to lower tensions between the two nations. She also pressed for a fresh round of talks between the two countries to help in the reunion of families divided by facts of history, CNN International reported.

North Korea's reaction

After Kang Kyung had made her proposal, the Korean foreign minister said that these proposals for talks “lacked sincerity” because of the South’s policy of having ganged up with the USA to apply pressure on North Korea. He had in mind the military build-up in Korean waters by the United States Navy and flights by the B-1 strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula.


The meeting between the foreign ministers of the two adversaries came after the Security Council passed sweeping sanctions on North Korea for testing a purported ICBM in contravention of the Security Council resolutions.

This test had alarmed the USA, Japan, and South Korea. Many people in the USA are pushing for the “military option” but in the end, such an action will be self-defeating as it could lead to the destruction of South Korea. The North Koreans have already said that in the event of a strike by the USA, the response from the North would be “merciless.”

China dominates

This meeting in Manila is also notable for a marked downtrend in criticism of China’s claim to the South China Sea and occupation of the islands as well construction of military facilities.

The Philippine President Duterte has toned down his criticism of the matter on the promise of economic benefits from China.

This would not be to the liking of the USA, but the USA abdicated its responsibility in the South China Sea nearly a decade back. Another aspect of the conference is the rebuke to the North by China, for contravening the Security Council resolution but it remains to be seen how sincere China is in following up on the resolution on economic sanctions.