Investigate North Korea's nuclear proliferation linkages: Sitharaman


In a statement, the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) said Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu signed an Agreement for Military-Technical Cooperation between the two countries on the sidelines of the fourth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM-Plus) in Clark city. "There are no good terrorists", Sitharaman said.

In her first foreign trip as defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman fired shots across the bows of both China and Pakistan on Tuesday, without naming the two countries. She also shared India's concerns about the nuclear and missile tests conducted by North Korea.

She also said that maritime security has been a key concern and countries should resolve maritime disputes peacefully, in accordance with global law. "It is important that North Korea's proliferation linkages are investigated and those who have supported its nuclear and missile programme are held accountable", she said. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims, with tensions exacerbated by Beijing's island-building and Washington's increasing freedom of navigation patrols. "We support a rules based order for oceans and sea that is critical for the continued growth and development of the Indo-Pacific region", she said, in an apparent reference to China flexing its muscles in the East and South China seas.

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North Korea, the disputed South China Sea and terrorism are issues at the top the agenda.

The Philippines, under the previous presidency of Benigno Aquino, had rallied ASEAN to take a united stand against Chinese actions in the sea and won a ruling from an worldwide tribunal that China's claims were unlawful.

The forum ADMM-plus includes defence ministers from the 10 Asean member countries and counterparts from countries such as Australia, China, India, Japan, US, South Korea, New Zealand and Russian Federation.