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“The ministers expressed their deep concern over the worsening situation on the Korean peninsula and called on the conflicting sides to show restraint and take immediate steps to restore composure and ease tensions,” the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting of ASEAN top diplomats in Brunei Friday.
The Brunei Times daily reported that that the ministers expressed readiness to mediate the talks between Seoul and Pyongyang at the ASEAN regional forum this June in Brunei, where representatives of South and North Koreas were expected to attend.
Tensions began escalating on the Korean Peninsula after international sanctions were imposed on North Korea in response to a long-range rocket launch in December, which world powers condemned as a ballistic missile test. North Korea responded by carrying out a third nuclear test in February, which was followed by more sanctions.
Pyongyang has threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the US mainland and US military bases in the region.
Some of its latest threats came after US and South Korean forces carried out annual joint military exercises, some of which took place near the maritime border between the two Koreas.
The United States responded by deploying F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to the region and making patrol flights over South Korea using B-2 and B-52 bombers.
Last week, North Korea reportedly moved two missiles capable of striking the US Pacific territory of Guam onto mobile launch pads, and advised foreign embassies to consider pulling staff out of Pyongyang.
It also called on all foreign organizations, companies and tourists to consider evacuation from South Korea “not to be harmed in the event of a war.”
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama called Thursday on North Korea to stop its belligerent saber-rattling and “lower temperatures,” saying no one had an interest in conflict on the Korean peninsula.