Kishida to visit Laos for talks with ASEAN peers before UNSC meet

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Laos from Sunday to Tuesday to attend a series of regional foreign ministerial meetings involving the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

In the Laotian capital of Vientiane, Kishida will discuss ways to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN and exchange views on regional and international affairs including China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, a senior official said.

He also plans to hold bilateral talks with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Philippines counterpart Perfecto Yasay on the sidelines of the meetings, which include the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Plus Three foreign ministerial meeting, a Japanese government source said.

Kishida’s talks with Wang and Yasay would be the first since an international tribunal found “no legal basis” for China’s claim to historic and economic rights over almost all of the South China Sea, in a case brought by the Philippines.

In his meetings with Wang and Yasay, he is likely to stress the importance of the rule of law and to call for compliance with the tribunal ruling and for resolving disputes in a peaceful manner, the source said.

The ASEAN Plus Three process involves the 10 ASEAN states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – plus China, Japan and South Korea.

The ASEAN Regional Forum, the largest annual security meet in Asia, will likely see North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho make a rare appearance.

This might give Kishida a chance to talk with Ri as North Korea continues to pursue nuclear and missile development programs despite global condemnation.

After returning to Tokyo on Wednesday morning, Kishida will go to New York that evening to chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on peace-building in Africa, the ministry said.

Japan, which became a nonpermanent member of the Security Council in January, assumes the rotating presidency of the 15-member council this month.

The U.N. open debate will come before Japan helps organize a summit of African leaders in August in Kenya with the United Nations, the African Union and others to discuss ways to promote development in the region.

Source: Japan Times