A non-agression treaty has been signed by North Korea with the Association of the South East Asian Nations (Asean), in a large symbolic move.
At a ceremony on Thursday, the last day of the annual security conference, Pak Ui Chun, North Korea’s foreign minister, signed the Treaty of Amity (Tac) and Co-operation with the Asean.
South Korea welcomed the development and George Yeo, Singapore’s foreign minister, said Pyongyang’s signing of the treaty was “quite an unexpected development”.
Although the move has no direct impact on the six-nation efforts to strip Pyongyang of its ability to produce nuclear weapons, it is a rare sign of North Korea reaching out to the international community.
The Tac came into force in 1976 and requires signatories to renounce the use or threat of force and calls for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. And in addition to the 10 Asean members, the treaty has been signed by 11 other countries outside the regional bloc.
The signing of the treaty comes amid moves by North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for economic and political incentives, such as normalisation of ties with Japan and the United States.