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3RD LD: N. Korea, Philippines establish diplomatic ties.

MANILA, July 12 Kyodo


The Philippines and North Korea signed an agreement Wednesday establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries, and ending more than 20 years of diplomatic negotiations.

The signing paves the way for Pyongyang's first-ever participation in and entry into the Asia-Pacific region's sole intergovernmental security forum, the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF), to be held July 27 in Bangkok.

In Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported the South Korean government welcomed the forging of diplomatic relations between Manila and Pyongyang.

The report quoted a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry as saying that normalized relations are expected to "positively" contribute to the development of new inter-Korean ties, following the landmark summit held last month in Pyongyang.

North Korean Ambassador to Thailand Jo In Chol, who arrived Tuesday night in Manila for a five-day visit, and Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon signed the accord in a simple ceremony at the Foreign Affairs Department.

"The Philippine government believes that the establishment of diplomatic relations with North Korea will enhance and sustain the conditions of peace and security in our region," Siazon said in a speech after the signing ceremony.

Jo said North Korea respects sovereignty, territorial integrity, the principles of noninterference and the principles of international law.

He pledged that North Korea would cooperate more closely with the Philippines and with international organizations in the region.

The move to establish diplomatic ties with the Philippines is part of North Korea's efforts to forge links with the outside world and emerge from its decades-long isolation. It wants to establish ties with all of the 10 ASEAN countries before it joins ARF.

Diplomatic missions for both countries will be on a "nonresident basis," with the Philippine ambassador to China also serving as the ambassador to North Korea, and a nonresident North Korean ambassador will be assigned as ambassador to the Philippines.

Both vowed that their ties will be "guided by the principles of the U.N. Charter and the generally accepted principles of international law, including respect for domestic laws, national sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual respect for international agreements to which countries are parties, noninterference in the internal affairs of states, and equality and mutual respect."

Diplomatic sources said Pyongyang wanted to set up an embassy in Manila but the Philippines opposed the proposal.

Filipino officials are wary because North Korean diplomats in other countries are known to engage in "extra-diplomatic activities" such as counterfeiting and smuggling, the diplomatic sources said.

Siazon denied there was any such request from North Korea.

However, he said he told Jo that ties should "initially be on a non-resident basis" and that both sides "should give time for the development of our commercial, political and economic relations."

Earlier this year, North Korea also established diplomatic ties with Italy and Australia. It has also indicated to Britain and Canada it would like to improve ties and it held a landmark summit with South Korea last month.

ASEAN and its partners in ARF are expected to praise North Korea for its efforts to open up to the world community at the annual July 27 meeting in Bangkok, according to draft ASEAN documents.

North Korea is the only country within the so-called geographical footprint of ARF in East Asia that is not a member of the 22-member forum.

Formed in 1994, ARF comprises the 10 ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- plus Australia, Canada, China, the 15-member European Union, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jul 17, 2000
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