U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected attend the ASEAN Regional Forum. Ahead of the meeting the U.S. embassy in the Philippines called on countries to condemn North Korea. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. embassy in the Philippines issued a statement urging countries in the Asia-Pacific to downgrade relations with North Korea.
The statement issued on Thursday comes ahead of a regional security meeting in Manila and addresses "all countries including ASEAN members" to "downgrade diplomatic engagements or exchanges," Southeast Asia-based BenarNews reported.
The ASEAN Regional Forum provides opportunities for top diplomats to hold talks on the sidelines.
North Korea's foreign minister and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are expected to be in attendance, but it is unlikely the two representatives will meet to address the nuclear issue.
Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, had said Tillerson does not plan to meet with North Korea's foreign minister, and expressed support for penalizing Pyongyang.
"What we have been sort of looking at is having a serious discussion of what it would take for a member to be suspended from this organization [the ASEAN Regional Forum] that is dedicated to conflict prevention and diplomacy," Thornton said. "I think what we would expect to see this year at the meeting would be a general chorus of condemnation of North Korea's provocative behavior and pretty serious diplomatic isolation directed at the North Korean foreign minister."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had said this week Kim Jong Un was "crazy" for pursuing nuclear weapons development, and accused Kim of playing with "dangerous toys."
In May, Duterte told U.S. President Donald Trump Kim is "not stable," according to a leaked transcript from the Philippines' foreign affairs department.
"He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China which is the last country he should rebuke," Duterte had said.