Leaders of Japan, the United States and several other Pacific Rim economies on Friday condemned North Korea at their summit meeting in Bangkok over Pyongyang's launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile.

On the first day of a two-day summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, most leaders blasted Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying that its military aggression has caused a surge in global food and energy prices, according to Japanese and Thai officials.

Pacific-rim leaders attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum annual summit on Nov. 18, 2022, in Bangkok. (Kyodo)

Russia's war in Ukraine is hampering the recovery of the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic, a Japanese official quoted Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as telling the summit, urging Moscow to stop the invasion immediately.

The North Korean missile, fired earlier Friday, likely fell within Japan's exclusive economic zone, posing yet another security threat to Tokyo and other economies in East Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (L) attends an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Bangkok on Nov. 18, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo


Leaders of Japan, the United States, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand held an emergency meeting the same day at which they condemned the missile launch and pledged to cooperate in efforts to completely denuclearize North Korea.

The six APEC leaders warned a North Korean nuclear test "would be met with a strong and resolute response" and said they will boost cooperation to achieve the complete denuclearization of Pyongyang.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called the missile launch a "brazen violation of multiple U.N. security violations" and pushed Pyongyang "to commit to serious and sustained diplomacy."

Harris is representing the United States at the summit in place of President Joe Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped it, as he did a Group of 20 summit that ended Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia.

Kishida reiterated that Japan will never tolerate Russia's nuclear threats in his remarks at the APEC summit, which focused on ways of promoting trade and sustainable growth in the region, as well as curbing runaway commodity prices driven by Russia's aggression.

All APEC leaders touched on ways Russia's war in Ukraine has precipitated high inflation, an energy crisis, a global recession and supply chain disruptions, expressing concern that the conflict has had a major impact on all economies, according to a senior Thai official.

"We have to fight the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also hurt by other global affairs and a climate crisis that not only affects the Asia-Pacific but also the livelihood of the whole world," Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the first in-person APEC summit in four years.

"We need to cooperate to prevent these effects," Prayut said.

It is unclear whether the member economies will be able to issue a post-summit leaders' declaration, given the different stances that members have taken with regard to Russia's aggression.

While Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia, some member economies, such as China, have opted not to.

APEC ministers managed to issue a joint statement Friday, a day after the conclusion of their meeting, by including two opposing views over the situation in Ukraine, hinting at the possibility of issuing a leaders' declaration similarly.

The joint statement said, "Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy -- constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks."

But it also said, "There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions."

Regarding the leaders' declaration, the Thai official said, "We are not there yet, but we are very close."

Despite differences over the Ukraine crisis among the member economies, the leaders plan to adopt the so-called Bangkok Goals for a Bio-Circular-Green Economy concept, a post-COVID-19 pandemic growth strategy initiated by the Thai government that addresses environmental and climate issues.

All economies agreed on the Bangkok Goals as they believe the goals will enhance cooperation in the region and promote proper utilization of resources, the official said.

Prayut said he looks forward to winning the leaders' endorsement of the Bangkok Goals on Saturday, saying they will be a legacy of APEC 2022.

The leaders are also expected to find common ground on the importance of transitioning to clean energy while ensuring energy security during the meeting, as well as promoting free and fair trade and investment.

The APEC gathering is the last of a series of summit meetings in Southeast Asia -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related summits in Phnom Penh and the G-20 summit in Bali, along with bilateral and trilateral talks on the sidelines.

Representing about half of global trade and 60 percent of the world economy, APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

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