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THE NATION: China pushes for Pak


      China pushes for
      Pakistan to be involved in

      MANILA -- China is pushing for the
      inclusion of Pakistan in security dialogue at
      the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) after
      India's nuclear tests, Association of
      Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) officials
      said yesterday. 

      China broached the idea on Wednesday
      during an informal dinner, but other
      participants in a three-day ARF senior
      officials meeting in Manila were lukewarm
      to the proposal, Asean sources said. 

      India is a participant in the forum, which
      also involves Brunei, Indonesia, Laos,
      Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines,
      Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia,
      Papua New Guinea, Australia, Canada,
      China, the European Union (EU), Japan,
      New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the
      United States. 

      Senior officials at the ARF meeting
      yesterday criticised India for its recent
      nuclear tests, calling the tests inconsistent
      with India's commitments to ARF's principle
      of nonproliferation. 

      ''The discussions were very heavy,'' said
      one Asean official. 

      Among the delegations which voiced
      concerns over the nuclear testing were
      Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand,
      the EU, and the United States, he said. 

      ''The delegations noted that when India
      joined ARF, she promised to abide by all of
      the principles of ARF and one of the
      principles of ARF is nonproliferation,'' said
      another Asean official. 

      But officials at the meeting backtracked
      yesterday from issuing a statement
      opposing the nuclear tests, saying they
      would leave it to a meeting of their foreign
      ministers in July. 

      Philippine Undersecretary of Foreign
      Affairs Lauro Baja said no statement will be
      issued until then. Foreign ministers of the
      nine members of Asean will meet in Manila
      on July 27. 

      Meanwhile, 11 countries have expressed
      their wish to be admitted into ARF but
      senior officials said they would prefer to
      concentrate on East Asia. 

      Baja, chairman of the meeting, said that
      senior officials had reached a consensus
      on endorsing Mongolia's early

      ''We will recommend to the ARF ministers
      the admission of Mongolia ... they will make
      the final decision,'' Baja said. 

      The Nation, Kyodo