Amid new threats to world peace, Asia-Pacific leaders have harshly condemned North Korea's recent missile launch and called for international unity. Shortly after the start of the two-day APEC summit, leaders from the US, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand convened for an emergency meeting in the Thai capital Bangkok on Friday. A few hours earlier, North Korea had fired another nuclear-capable missile that could theoretically reach US territory.
"This latest behavior by North Korea is a flagrant violation of several UN security resolutions," said US Vice President Kamala Harris in Bangkok. The country is thus unnecessarily increasing tensions in the region. "We strongly condemn these actions and have again called on North Korea to stop further unlawful destabilization."
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the missile test "absolutely unacceptable". He called on the international community to act together to completely denuclearize North Korea. South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo said such "illegal activities" by the neighboring country would "never be tolerated". The international community must unite and react decisively.
Russian aggression is also weighing on the summit
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine also overshadowed the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Community. Moscow continued its rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities on Thursday and shelled several cities.
French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Bangkok, called on countries in the Asia-Pacific region to join the "growing consensus" against Russian aggression. "This war is your problem too," said Macron, who is attending the meeting as a guest of honor. France is not a member of APEC.
France's top priority is to contribute to peace in Ukraine and try to "develop a global dynamic to put pressure on Russia," Macron stressed. France wants to work closely with China, India and the entire region. Asian countries such as China, India, Vietnam and Cambodia have so far not supported the sanctions against Russia.
APEC includes 21 countries on both sides of the Pacific. Well over a third of the world's population lives in them. Other topics of discussion should be the rising energy and food prices as well as climate change and the economic recovery after the corona pandemic.
Protests in the streets of Bangkok
Despite government warnings, protests broke out in Bangkok. Angry demonstrators clashed with the police both near the conference venue and at the famous Democracy Monument in the center of the metropolis. The emergency services wore heavy protective gear and pushed the protesters back with rubber bullets. The injured received medical attention. According to reports, several participants were arrested.
Among other things, numerous posters with slogans against the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, but also against the Chinese head of state and party leader Xi Jinping and the Russian President Vladimir Putin could be seen. Among other things, the democracy movement is demanding new elections, a constitutional change and a reform of the monarchy. General Prayut Chan-o-cha has been in power since a military coup in 2014.
Tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers secured the peak meeting. The roads around the Queen Sirikit Convention Center, where the APEC summit is taking place, were largely closed. In the early evening, the summit participants had an audience with Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn.