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Clinton urges Asia to get tough on North Korea

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Asia on Friday to vigorously apply sanctions against North Korea, saying Pyongyang’s belligerent actions marked a clear regional threat, Reuters repords.

Clinton, speaking in Hanoi at the Asia-Pacific’s biggest security dialogue, also called on Myanmar’s neighbors to pressure the country’s military rulers for democratic reforms, and said Asia must join the global community in sending a “clear signal” to Iran to rein in its nuclear ambitions.

“One measure of the strength of a community of nations is how it responds to threats to its members, neighbors and region,” Clinton told the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum, which includes regional powers China, Japan and Russia along with the United States, European Union and Canada.

Clinton on Wednesday unveiled new U.S. sanctions against North Korea, which both Washington and Seoul blame for the March sinking of a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors and sharpened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

The new U.S. sanctions, which target North Korea’s ruling elite, build on earlier United Nations sanctions which imposed broad curbs on dealings with North Korea in hopes of persuading it to abandon its atomic ambitions.

Clinton said it was essential Asian nations enforce these sanctions to encourage North Korea “to take the steps it must” to stop nuclear development and seek real peace with South Korea.

Clinton also urged Asia-Pacific ministers to put more pressure on Myanmar — a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which anchors the forum — to enact real democratic reforms and allow elections later this year which will be both free and credible.